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Alice Kaplan
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Hi DL, PK must know this!! will send on.... A
Paol Keineg published Abalamour this past May. Abalamour: in the Breton language it means “because”, but when you say it in French, you hear the phrase à bas l’amour—down with love. When I tried to press Paol on the purpose of this double meaning, he was serene: “The whole purpose of poetry is to have a multitude of meanings. These poems are in a sort of perpetual hesitation between “because” and “down with love.” We thought we would try to see what some of this poetry sounded like in English, and as we worked on the translations, I asked Paol... Continue reading
Posted Aug 2, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Last week I was wandering around the giant warehouse of a bookstore on the rue de Rennes called the FNAC, and in a fit of nostalgia I found myself face- to-face with the “Literary Criticism” section. It was a sad moment. On a whole floor bursting at the seams with novels from every continent, histories of every century, sociology, religion, political theory, and you-name-it---and in the country that has inspired countless budding literary critics the world around….Literary Criticism got two small book cases. They looked embarrassed, those two minuscule towers wedged between two other bookcases labeled “Biography” and “Literary History”... Continue reading
Posted Jul 22, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
François Hollande was calm and presidential on French television yesterday. Speaking of his function rather than his person, he suggested that the President of the Republic must soothe, conciliate, and compromise. In a world where denial is the common currency, the way he explained the French economic disaster was reassuring: “There are three figures that everyone needs to keep in mind: national debt at 90% of the GDP; unemployment at 10%; a deficit of 70 billion euros.” What it will take to balance the budget? Not austerity, but rather “l'effort juste.” Words still mean a lot in this country, words... Continue reading
Posted Jul 15, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
A Moroccan dog and an Algerian dog meet up at the Paris airport. The Moroccan dog says to the Algerian dog, “So why are you going to Morocco?” The Algerian dog says: “To eat.” The Algerian dog says to the Moroccan dog, “So why are you going to Algeria?” The Moroccan dog says, “To bark.” This was big joke here around 1988, year of the liberalization of the Algerian press, explains Deborah Harrold, a political scientist and Middle East specialist at Bryn Mawr. If you read El Watan today, it still works….But it didn’t work during the black decade, when... Continue reading
Posted Jul 7, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
In Brief (but not so brief....) On Thursday the newspaper announced that a new law would allow people to take paying guests in their homes. Will tourism be born again? There are cash machines in Algiers, but no one takes credit cards, and if you want a really good meal you’d better go to someone’s house. Or better yet, go to an Algerian wedding. There aren’t even any postcards on sale in the streets of Algiers. With luck, you might find leftovers from the 1960s, covered in dust. An American social scientist who works on the economy was here in... Continue reading
Posted Jul 6, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
After my lecture at the Glycines, a university professor talked about what Camus means to Algerians today. What she said may have been familiar to everyone in the room, but it was completely new to me: “It’s true that Camus was banished for a long time, by critics, readers, etc. I don’t think it’s The First Man that brought him back. It was the situation, the terrorism we experienced in the period we call our civil war (1990s). A lot of Algerians realized then that there might be a parallel, that they were in fact a little like those French... Continue reading
Posted Jul 5, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
Am writing from my room in the Glycines study center, where the sound of honking cars and screaming people is keeping me awake at 2 am. Tomorrow, if all goes according to plan, the fronds on the several miles of palm trees planted along the highway into town from the airport that have been wrapped tight against their trunks, will finally shake their booty. In this country where a liter of gas costs less than a mineral water, there is too much to say and not always a good way to say it. Here was the running joke at dinner... Continue reading
Posted Jul 4, 2012 at The Best American Poetry
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Jul 4, 2012