Poetry by Moncef Mezghanni
By Anne-Linda Amira Augustin
Moncef Mezghanni was born in 1954 in Sfax, the second largest city in Tunisia. Today he is considered to be one of the most famous Tunisian poets, having published various volumes of poetry and theater. His poetry is characterized by a short and economical language, thus Mezghanni’s poems show his very individual and creative style. In using cynics, he frankly speaks out on politics and criticizes society. In the 1970s and 1980s, he considered himself to be a left-wing poet, however, has always remained non-partisan until today. Lately, he caused a stir with the poem “Les Funérailles de l’Absence” (orginally in Arabic), which deals with the lack of attendance of Tunisian parliamentarians and which he recited and performed in television in May 2016.
Due to his art of performing and presenting, he is very popular today. He received numerous prizes for his literary work and creativity such as the Tunisian award of merit for culture. His works are distributed through books and CD’s in Tunisia and the wider Arab World. Mezghanni usually writes and performs in Arabic, but some of his works are translated into French by Aymen Hacen.
In the Q&A, Mezghanni explained how important poetry in Arab societies is. It is the “art number one”, he stated. While in Europe and many other parts of the world, poets could not live off their art, Arab poets can, at least if they are well-known as Mezghanni. He traces the popularity of poetry back to the pre-Islamic and the early Islamic times, where poets had strong power with their words.
See Mezghanni reciting his poem here