Unbound presents poets and writers working with / on multilinguality. Meet the Algerian poet Samira Negrouche.
Samira Negrouche was born in Algiers in 1980. She is the author of several poetry collections including: À l’ombre de Grenade, Iridienne, and Cabinet Secret – a work with Enan Burgos.  Negrouche possesses three languages: French, Arabic and Tamazight. She writes in French and translates Arabic poetry and has participated in interdisciplinary projects involving drama, video, photography and plastic arts. Le jazz des oliviers was published in Algeria by Tell in 2010 and was subsequently translated and published in Italy the following year. In Paris, she recently published an anthology of contemporary francophone Algerian poets, Quand l’amandier refleurira (Editions de l’Amandier), and has created a show called “Soleils” that focuses on francophone Algerian poetry from the Thirties up to the present day.
In 2012, she wrote a poem on the Arab Spring, Sept petits monologues du jasmin (Seven Little Jasmine Monologues, translated by Marilyn Hacker). The poem in French is structurally composed of three parts. The first part contains seven ‘mini-poems’ in prose that refer to seven Arabic cities: Tunis, Tripoli, Cairo, Saana, Damascus, Rabat and Algiers (in French, the author gives only the initials of the cities to the reader). The second and third parts contain verses entitled ‘Suite a/rythmique’ and ‘Triptyque pour jeu de lignes ou de chambre’.  Negrouche explains: “These fragments were finalized in January 2012, and while I use some details very specific to that period, I think they perhaps have more sense today, with a certain distance. I don’t know, what do you think?”.   Of the English translation, she says: “The English version has its own life, and this is what I like and admire about Marilyn Hacker’s work, it never feels like a translation. There aren’t flow accidents when I read her translations.”
An extract of the poem in French and in English is given below:
Two hundred and sixty-four kilometres on dusty roads, caravan of withered legs skimpy soles that move forward becoming denser as if weighed down with oversized bags as if liberated from unloaded cargo Aden the sea breeze becomes more distant with each step I offer you my back and the ivory of my skin burned a hundred times by the day-labouring sun crossing clambering in the crowd of passers-by placing the grain a hundred times on others’ threshholds. Surging onto the road faces determined or resigned this road that seems to lead only to the center of the metaphor but still cuts the illusion short.
Two hundred and sixty-four kilometres to set fire to my shaven head let it catch fire let it thin out the horizon and change the weather above the close-ranked columns of men and slogans to each step taken let it add one more and let the city roads never arrive from the ancient heights.)
On this morning cracked with disappointments when blue has left the sea to invade the hill in a uniformed chain tightening on the diminishing crowds. Midnight aborts the day leaving the Casbah to its rubbish and fragments. I appeal to the memory of Algiers from its seaside bars to the tanks of the occupation, I appeal to Hassiba to Djamila to Didouche and to Boudiaf to the ancestors and to the amnesiacs to the rapists of dreams and to the perpetual traitors I appeal to every drop spilled to every humiliation let the bay gush forth at last and let it inhabit us let it open our senseless eyelids let Al Anka and the besieged diwans awaken let the doorways of our houses open and let a new song arise. Let the TGV Express awaken, let it bring back the breeze from Tanger and let it start a new route from Tunis to Alexandria and from Beirut to Istanbul. Let a new day open and let Midnight be fragrant with jasmine.
Collaborations & a poet’s reading
In 2015, Negrouche collaborated with the English-born poet Zoe Skoulding on the project ‘170 degrees’, as part of the Globe Road Poetry London festival. Listen to Samrouche reading her poetry:
Summary in French
Faites la rencontre de Samira Negrouche, poétesse algérienne d’expression francophone qui vit à Alger. Samira Negrouche est une poétesse et auteure algérienne francophone vivant à Alger. Elle est l’auteure de plusieurs recueils de poésie, de courts essais et de textes en prose. Negrouche traduit aussi la poésie de l’arabe et de l’anglais vers le français. Ses travaux ont été traduits dans plus de quinze langues, en autre, en anglais par Zoë Skoulding avec qui elle a collaboré en 2014 sur sa performance ‘179°’ à l’occasion du festival de poésie de Ledbury. Elle a travaillé sur des projets interdisciplinaires de musique, de théâtre, de vidéo, de photographie ainsi que des arts plastiques. Quelques-unes de ses publications: Cabinet Secret (2007), Le Jazz des oliviers (2010), Seuil dynamique (2015). Formée comme médecin, Negrouche consacre tout son temps à des projets créatifs.
 The full list of publications:
- Faiblesse n’est pas de dire… Algiers: Barzakh, 2001.
- Les Vagues du silence, by Yasminah Salih, Alger: Al Ikhtilef, 2002. (Translation)
- L’opéra cosmique, Algiers: Al Ikhtilef, 2003.
- Iridienne, Echalas: Color Gang, 2005.
- A l’ombre de Grenade, Toulouse A.P l’étoile, 2003 ; Lettres Char-nues, Algiers 2006.
- Cabinet secret, Echalas: Color Gang, 2007.
- Le Jazz des oliviers, Blida: Editions du Tell, 2010.
- Quand l’Amandier refleurira, Anthology, 2012.
- Six arbres de fortune autour de ma baignoire, Mazette, Paris 2017.
 I was unable to verify whether these two parts are missing in the English version or have been left out of the source I consulted.
 Source: Arabic Literature in English, https://arablit.org/2017/07/11/samira-negrouches-seven-little-jasmine-monologues/
 Source: Sanson, Hervé, ‘Contact et blessure tout ensemble…’, in: Po&sie, 2014/2 (N° 148), https://www.cairn.info/revue-poesie-2014-2-page-24.htm#pa8
Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani Mina Ray, 18/03/2018.