Rabat - Rachid Bougha
Fathya el-Noho is a Moroccan poet, who fights for free speech and Moroccan women’s rights. She describes herself as someone who loves beauty, freedom and equality. She writes down simple words that touch on human condition and women around the country. She opened up to Arabstoday on a Ramadan night, sipping on a cup of mint tea.
AB: How did you come to use your poetry as a mean of rebellion against society?
FN: I did not really choose to become a poet, nor a rebel. I was thrown in this universe, and the rebellious part of me only came out later on. I then realised how much I rejected the system I was living in. I feel like the world I live in is a universe where the positive and the negative constantly collide. I write poetry in order to express and soothe these mixed feelings in a different manner.
This universe I am talking about could be my body, my family or the society. When I cannot accept something, I rebel against it. I do not free women in my poems. ‘Women’ is a word stained by gender stereotypes and my poems are above all feminist poems.
AB:What were you doing before publishing your first poem collection?
FN: I will never forget the first time I wrote a poem. I was reading political books - Max Weber, Engel, Gramsci, trying to educate myself and I found inner peace. 20 years later, I am still in peace with myself.
I presented my poems to publishing houses, without much success. I didn’t immediately think of putting together a collection. My friends encouraged me to publish a book, and I wish I had done things differently. I made some mistakes.
AB: Did your mother encourage you?
FN: I was an orphan. I shall answer this question with one of my poems. I have never read this one in public yet: ““You left before my melody was achieved, will you play me on all crazy minarets, may my cries next spring be cheers, this is the origin scar my poem carries".
AB: Why do you insist so much on the theme of free bodies in your poems?
FN: My body has a controlling power. It’s the physical envelope of my soul; I am not scared of being mortal. Other bodies do not scare me. When I write, my body and soul become one.
AB: Your second collection is outstanding. What improvements did you make to your style?
FN: It does not feel like I’ve changed. My first collection was published four years ago, since then I did not write anything new. I once said in an interview and I insist; my poems are biographies.
AB: Can we say that Al-Fatiha [Qu’ran’s first chapter] and Islamic fundamentalists are on two different planets?
FN: I don’t like extremism. I think it’s against nature. Human kind should progress and evolve, not regress back in dark ages. Extremism is not normal.
AB: Why don’t Arabic poems talk about issues like Palestine?
Poetry is an art that concerns universal issues, according to my small experience anyway. You can take it away from the individual issue, but it’s a common language that anyone can relate to.
AB: What are your future projects?
Poetry and projects don’t go hand in hand. Poets live in the fear that their own achievements will shorten their lives.