For me, poetry is a situation – a state of being, a way of facing life and facing history.
In the Arab world, there is no link between the cultural habits of peoples and the ways of thinking and creating of modern intellectuals. They are two separate worlds.
I am a guest of the French language. My poems in French are born of my interaction with the French language, which is not the same as that of a French poet.
People must insist on the right to say no, to be alone, to stand out from the herd. Creative artists can say all this in their own way and in their own field, by hard, rigorous work.
I belong to a specific category of writers, those who speak and write in a language different from that of their parents.
I came to poetry through the urgent need to denounce injustice, exploitation, humiliation. I know that’s not enough to change the world. But to remain silent would have been a kind of intolerable complicity.
Beauty is first and foremost an emotion.
I don’t feel guilty about expressing myself in French; nor do I feel that I am continuing the work of the colonizers.
In the ’70s I was in exile; every time I went back I wondered if they’d take my passport away.
At 21, I discovered repression and injustice. The army would shoot students with real bullets.