Describing a kiss

Should a kiss, each time I try to describe it,

Or describe some slight saltiness in its taste,

Become an idea?

All that remains

One hair, a messenger of fear on my shoulder, is all that remains.

One swallow does not make summer

….. And it was said in your proverbs: “one swallow does not make summer.”

Have I ever come on my own?

In the direction of dust

Love repeats us constantly, but death does not.

We vacillate between the mighty two, sooner or later, we get trapped as we head in the direction of dust, to be here or there; to be where we should not be.

The poem

My pen is a child that pants in my hands,
and his poem is a kite.
My words are, in the gallery of darkness and silence,
like a ruby ring
in a dead man’s finger.

The seven crafts

Moving between his seven endless crafts,

My father’s summer sparkles on his forehead like droplets

That await me among his wrinkles.

I follow the fruit of craft in his hands, and his face is my mirror.

I press his teeth and snatch his nail,

Two drops fall on our temples.

Hunting times

At times, I imagine I have a world that I inhabit; having no wish whatsoever, but to falsify what others take as truth.

Yet I return to lie as they lie.

I wake up overwhelmed with a consciousness of my traps, and then I call my dogs and go hunting.

Ain Chammas a spring that was a child

The spring which saw me a child has lost its abundance of water and the crab’s side-jump.

When I visited it yesterday, it saw me, through its old water, standing.

Winter is a child

I have not outgrown my childhood: Every time I outrun it, and look back, I find I did not amount to anything.

( Translated by Rabeb Hamrouni)




There is a jasmine in our home,

Basil and Mint,

A closet of nails and hammers


My mother is there,

There is,

a symbolic stone of purification,

crunch of wood in the corners


The rain is falling in the patio

Ancestors standing on the doorsteps:

My father’s silent steps.

Sunset view on the Mediterranean Sea from Juan...

Image via Wikipedia

The Mediterranean

This is our dire medium, our old sea

It is in the middle of nothing but geography

The flank of the wave still welcomes the slaves

But today they

Volunteer in the boats of death screaming:

Where is the slaver?


The pirates, however, still sail


In one way, only.


My donkey lets down its ears, pants under me

Its wound exposed to the sun

Its female is in my field

And in the tip of my stick:

Lies Its water… and its share of barley.

( Translated by Onsi Yousfi)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Mohamed Ali Yousfi

Mohamed Ali Yousfi

Mohamed Ali Yousfi (Arabic: محمد علي اليوسفي‎) (born March 3, 1950, Beja, Tunisia) is a Tunisian writer and translator.



After obtaining his master’s degree in philosophy and social sciences, he completed his postgraduate studies at the Lebanese University . His work has been published in Tunis, and throughout the Middle East (Amman, Beirut and Damascus).

His first novel, published in 1992, was titled The Time for Elves, and won the prize for best Arabic novel[citation needed]). His second novel, Sun Tiles, was published five years later, and won the prize for best novel of Tunisia 1997[citation needed].

He has also proposed an original interpretation of the texts concerning the Palestinian intifada in a book of literary criticism The Alphabet of the stone, though his main focus is in creating Arabic translations of various authors; Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Miguel Ángel Asturias, Alejo Carpentier, Shichiro Fukazawa, Álvaro Cepeda Samudio, Christine Bruet, Octavio Paz, an anthology of Greek poetry, biography of Nikos Kazantzakis, The Beginnings of the bourgeois philosophy of Max Horkheimer and Balzac and realism french Georg Lukács.



  • Edge of the earth
  • The Night of ancestors
  • A sixth woman for the senses


  • The kingdom of al okhaydhar
  • Yesterday, Beirut
  • Dentella
  • Thresholds of paradise


Novels (in Arabic)

External links

NAME Yousfi, Mohamed Ali
ALTERNATIVE NAMES محمد علي اليوسفي
SHORT DESCRIPTION Tunisian writer and translator
DATE OF BIRTH March 3, 1950
PLACE OF BIRTH Beja, Tunisia

The role of literary censorship

By Jean Fontaine

The phenomenon is not new. The good writer takes every opportunity provided to him to deliver his message. The literary writing proposes so many possibilities leaving the author faced with the difficulty to choose one.
Mohamed Ali Yousfi, for over twenty years, has made a name in the world of translation (twelve books, mainly writers from Latin America), poetry (three collections careacterised by a pessimistic tone, wisdom has disappeared from history), the novel (two books: Le Temps des lutins( the time of goblin) ([Tawqît al-binkâ], London, 1992) and soleil de tuile (Sun tiles)
Shams al-qarâmîd], Tunis, Dâr al – Janûb, 1997) and criticism (a study of texts concerning the Palestinian uprising).
Born in Tunis in 1950, he lived the Palestinian issue closely, on the ground, then in Cyprus, before returning to his country where he worked as a journalist for foreign journals.
This year, his third novel, The Kingdom of Oukhaydhar ([Mamlakat al-Oukhaydhar], Damascus, Dâr al Talî `a l-Jadîda, 2001, p. 188), where the influence of his imagination is more apparent than in his first two novels.
After a presentation of characters, almost as a list, the first part takes place far from the kingdom of Oukhaydhar. The text, told by the eldest sister, consists of paragraphs, with subtitles, about a page, describing various aspects of the life of a child whose family moved from a building in Ariana to a villa Raouad. The second part, a little more consistent, takes place on the way to the kingdom. The third part, constituting half of the novel concerns the heart of the matter: Double personality of actors, fantastic stories. A few pages, finally, suppose what the true beginning would be like.
A first reading of this text puts the offers a sense of adventure, as can an adolescent imagine. All possible weird insects intervene in here. They are directly involved in the development of the story, each one with its own personality.
The second level, more symbolic, is the gestation of a child. Indeed,
The sister knows that her mother is pregnant and she tries to figure out what will be like his little brother. The kingdom is the mother’s uterus. The child released by Caesarean section. But once born, all historical and social assumptions of his family disappear when it hits the wall of his own destiny.
A third reading level appears when reading between the lines. It is a stand on the news of the country. The author regularly intervenes in the text (p. 21, 23, 33, 95, 123, 187), as was the case in several novels last year. Though the story is somehow magical, even if it is consistent within itself, it can be used as a pretext to reflect on the evolution of this country. In addition to numerous allusions of direct observable facts today, the conquest of a palace, for example, just as in the novel by Hasan Nasr, brings us back to a more concrete reality.
Do these two examples imply the emergence of a new literary practice that uses what is already given in order to produce quality texts, despite all
Jean Fontaine: Founder and former president of the review of the
Institute “Belles Lettres Arabes” (Beautiful Arabic Letters) (IBLA)Tunis

Translated by Onsi Yousfi


Successful crossing

By Kadhim Jihad

Muhammad ‘Alî al-Yûsufî (born 1950) is a novelist, literary critic and translator. His novel Tawqît al-Binkâ ( “Goblin Time”, 1992) ends with discovering the absurdity of any emigration, but begins with a massive resumption of a happy time spent in the countryside of Tunisia, with his legendary grandfather and a grandmother. Fighting in the French army, the grandfather had offered chocolate to a girl who had just lost her father in the war, which earned him the love of her mother. In the neighborhood, lived a French man who refused to leave the village after the departure of the settlers. He “appropriated” common ground on the hill, which he cultivates and earns his leaving from. The land belongs to the grandfather of the narrator who lets the French have it, agreeing that the land belongs to him as long as he lives. Speaking Arabic well, the French man, calls for prayer from the top of the hill, where he does not risk to be heard by anyone but by reptiles and birds, which suits him by the way, because he is also the inventor of a language that enables him to communicate with them.

The grandmother mixes in her tenderness the living and the dead; her memory is refuses to register the deaths and disappearances. She cries and whines when she heard that Untel, who is dead actually decades ago, has been arrested for drunkenness. The young narrator Târiq understands therefore that if his grandmother allows herself for disorientation and throws into panic time, it is by accompanying his grandfather that he will have any chance of knowing the character of the land and the secrets of the plants. However, the old man tells him that he had come too late: when the fathers deny the earth and turn their back from her, the grandsons come only to “sniff the smell of grandfathers,” namely what material they are made of and what stories they are capable of.

It is such a peace which is sacked in the passage to the capital, then to Paris, where the narrator will do the thirty-six jobs, feeling deprived forever of the pure poetry that he tasted in his childhood. The poetic writing is quite dense in this novel and it condenses even more in the following novel and becomes more allegorical. In Shams al-Qarâmîd ( “Sun tiles, here it is a proper noun, 1997), the narrator scrolls scenes of an idyllic childhood spent in northern Tunisia, surrounded by wonderful stories and reports eminently transparent with beings and space. But the departure, as in the previous novels, has become a fatality. Except here it is described in allegorical, punctuated by initiative ordeals where the main character, narrator of the story himself, understands that wanting to by-pass Lake Sanhûrî, he is on the wrong path and must turn back to try again. Since it requires him anyway to immerse himself in the waters of the lake, thing that he hasn’t done from the very beginning! Throughout this futile voyage, he is haunted by the memory of his brother who disappeared while naked, he advised him to wear more clothes and be aware of the snakes, which are mistaken for ropes abandoned on the road. “Everything we lose keep shining inside of us”, seem to say one of the maxims scattered by the narrator through the novel and viaticum. It is these maxims that ensure that at the end of the day, despite his tragic failure, he has won his bet and has succeeded in crossing.

Kadhim Jihad: Writer and Iraqi translator

Translated by Onsi Yousfi

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