Khaled Mattawa on the overthrow of Qaddafi

The L.A. Times on 10/15 printed on its “Opinion” page a poem by Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa on the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi. Below, the opening lines; you can read the whole work here.

After 42 years
By Khaled Mattawa 

Five years old when the dictator took over in a coup —

curfew shut our city down

Bloodless coup, they said —

The many who thought this could be good.

The dictator, a young man, a shy recluse assumed the helm, bent in piety,

the dead sun of megalomania hidden in his eyes.

Could not go to the store to buy bread or newspaper,

could not leave home, visit friends,

the radio thundering hatred, retching blood-curdling song —

Signs that went unread

Factories built and filched, houses stolen, newspapers shut down,

decades of people killed, 42 years.

But that’s all over now —

How can you say over when it took 42 years —

(ctd. here)
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Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris is a poet, translator, essayist & anthologist who has published more than 50 books, most recently, Meditations on the Stations of Mansur al-Hallaj (poems) from Chax Press and The University of California Book of North African Literature (volume 4 in the Poems for the Millennium series), coedited with Habib Tengour. Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader edited & translated by Joris, and Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-between, essays on Joris’ work edited by Peter Cockelbergh, came out in 2012. Forthcoming are Barzakh — Poems 2000-2012 (Black Widow Press) & Breathturn Into Timestead:The Collected Later Poems of Paul Celan (FSG).

2 opinions on “Khaled Mattawa on the overthrow of Qaddafi”

  1. Thank you for posting this – very powerful. People are always full of hope (and understandable anger and sadness) on these occasions, but the reality of the aftermath can be just as harsh in its own way.

  2. Good one. It will be interesting to see what he writes about the next regime. One “hopes” for the best with little hope that will be enough or what is actually required.

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