The Shutters collects the two most important poetry collections—”The Shutters” and “Photograms”—by the legendary Moroccan writer Ahmed Bouanani. By intertwining myth and tradition with the familiar objects and smells of his lived present, Bouanani reconstructs vivid images of Morocco’s past. He weaves together references to the Second World War, the Spanish and French protectorates, the Rif War, dead soldiers, prisoners, and poets screaming in their tombs with mouths full of dirt. His poetry, written in an imposed language with a “strange alphabet,” bravely confronts the violence of his country’s history—particularly during the period of les années de plomb, the years of lead—all of which bears the brutal imprint of colonization. As Bouanani writes, “These memories retrace the seasons of a country that was quickly forgetful of its past, indifferent to its present, constantly turning its back on the future.”
An atmosphere of mystery surrounds his work: Bouanani offers a precious contribution to Morocco’s collective memory.
A melancholy, hallucinatory, biting meditation.
—New York Review of Books
Bouanani’s work mocks authoritarianism and fanaticism, despairs of Morocco’s democratic failure, and struggles to hold on to the cultural and historical inheritance its government is bent on erasing… A scathing, fearsome, and hallucinatory collection.
After the collective trauma of the colonial occupation of Morocco, a vanguard of artists forged cultural practices that sought to establish a new vision of the country, appealing to its ancient traditions passed down through oral culture. Filmmaker, poet, and writer Ahmed Bouanani was a towering presence in this landscape, pioneering a cinematic and poetic language that influenced a generation to come.