En tête-à-tête: Conor Bracken - "Scorpionic Sun" - Khalid Lyamlahy

Friday, October 18, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Conor Bracken


"No, decolonizing is not a metaphor, but it is a proposal emerging from the place where land and consciousness meet. To get closer to that place Khaïr-Eddine’s Scorpionic Sun resists any nation state—or any reader—who would take up land or consciousness, song or bodies as mere instruments."—Farid Matuk

Conor Bracken discusses Scorpionic Sun. He will be joined in conversation by Khalid Lyamlahy. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

Presented in partnership with the University of Chicago Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Book Office of the French Embassy in the US, and the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago

At the Co-op

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About the book: Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine was one of the most prodigious, ferocious Moroccan writers of his time—a time defined by political upheaval, repression, exile, and change. However, his work has never appeared in English, let alone the U.S. Now, though, it does, in Conor Bracken’s translation of Khaïr-Eddine’s first collection of poems, Scorpionic Sun. Hailed by Johannes Goransson as “a return of a political surrealism when its convulsive bloom is most needed,” this collection of poems showcases Khaïr-Eddine’s vigorous, relentless, “linguistic guerrilla war.” The poems take aim at a wide variety of targets: King Hassan II, the French, pan-Arabism, colonialism, exile, prejudice, and more. Above all, though, his target is the French language itself, which he wields with exhilarating force and dexterity in order to decolonize it, using it to describe without prejudice the land and people of which he is a part.

About the author: Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine (1941-1995) was a Moroccan Amazigh writer and poet. His first book, Agadir, was awarded the Enfants Terrible prize, founded by Jean Cocteau, and his subsequent work, including Soleil Arachnide, Ce Maroc!, Le Deterreur, and others earned him renown as the “Rimbaud of the Maghreb” and comparisons to Antonin Artaud, Aimé Césaire, and Édouard Glissant. Before his exile in France, he co-founded Souffles, an avant-garde literary magazine committed to decolonizing Maghrebi art, politics, and literature; he also co-founded the Poésie Toute movement with Mostafa Nissabouri. Scorpionic Sun will be the first of his books translated into English.

About the translator: Conor Bracken is a poet and translator. His chapbook, Henry Kissinger, Mon Amour (Bull City Press, 2017), was the winner of the fifth annual Frost Place Chapbook competition, and his translation of Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine’s Scorpionic Sun will be published by CSU Poetry Center in September 2019. Poems and translations appear in BOMB, Colorado Review, The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, Waxwing, and elsewhere. He is an assistant poetry editor at Four Way Review and on the English faculty at the University of Findlay.

About the interlocutor: Khalid Lyamlahy is a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Chicago. A native of Rabat in Morocco, he studied civil engineering in France and worked as a project manager in Paris and London. After graduating from Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle, he moved to Oxford where he completed a PhD on Moroccan Francophone literature in 2018. In January 2019, he joined the University of Chicago where he currently teaches North African literature. Besides his academic work, he is a regular contributor to literary journals and the author of a first novel, Un Roman Étranger, published in 2017 in Paris.

About the series: The En tête-à-tête series is an author-centered series of readings and conversations on books in French language. The series is a part of the Seminary Co-op French Corner project, supported by the Cultural Service at the Consulate General of France in Chicago. Learn more about the En tête-à-tête series here.

Event Location: 
Seminary Co-op
5751 S. Woodlawn Ave.
Chicago, IL 60637