Saloua Ben Amor Reviews Yahia Lababidi's Desert Songs

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          Yahia Lababidi’s Desert Songs (Rowayat, 2022) is his most recent collection of six poems written in English along with a translation to Arabic by talented Syrian poet Osama Esber. It is accompanied by intense photographs, captured by photographer Zakaria Wakrim, of the stunning Sahara Desert in Egypt.
          Lababidi, as a mystic, retreats to the land of mirage to “empty [him]self of the city’s noise, overhear [him]self and then lose [him]self” to the absolute. This collection of poems, as Lababidi called them, is “a slender packet of yearning” for
the divine and the mysteries of life. The poet reflects a poetic language that is intensely fragrant and exquisitely rich with love for his native homeland, Egypt.
          Lababidi’s graphic depiction of the desert offers vivid images littered with phenomenal beauty of meditation and wisdom where “eye and mind are free to mediate perfection” and “experience quietude”. Thanks to his powerful and elegant
poetic images, the reader embarks on a journey to the desert where he/she experiences aloneness, ruthlessness, and pain.

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Saloua Ben Amor is a Tunisian educator and holds an MA in Canadian Literature. She is currently completing work toward her Ph.D.  She is a committed educator and instructor.


Ben Amor is known for her translation work in English, French, and Arabic and has been published in the San Diego Poetry Annual (2022)


She is an editor at KNOT Magazine.

Yahia Lababidi is an Egyptian-American thinker and poet, nominated for a Pushcart Prize by World Literature Today magazine. He has been featured on NPR, Al Jazeera, and in the Guardian, among other places.


Lababidi's first book SIGNPOSTS TO ELSEWHERE (Jane Street Press) was selected as a 2008 Book of the Year by The Independent (UK). "Signposts" (available as an autographed paperback only from the publishers) was followed by well-received collections of literary and cultural essays, TRIAL BY INK: From Nietzsche to Belly Dancing (available electronically from Common Ground Publishing); poetry, FEVER DREAMS; and a series of literary dialogues with Alex Stein, THE ARTIST AS MYSTIC: Conversations with Yahia Lababidi. His latest is a new collection of short poems, BARELY THERE (Wipf and Stock, 2013).


Lababidi's writing has been translated into several languages, including: Arabic, Hebrew, Slovak, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Swedish. Otherwise, several video-poems based on his work, have been shown at film festivals, worldwide, while Lababidi has participated in international poetry festivals throughout the USA, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. 


He is the only contemporary Arab writer featured in the encyclopedia: Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists, and the youngest poet included in the best-selling US college textbook, Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing (10th edition). Lababidi was chosen as a Juror for the 2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature - a biennial award widely considered to be the most prestigious international literary prize after the Nobel Prize in Literature.


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