Like a Dream, Disintegrated, and The Alchemist by Abd Al Malik

Transference, Dec 2016

Translated from French by Siobhan Meï

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Like a Dream, Disintegrated, and The Alchemist by Abd Al Malik

Like a Dream, Disintegrated, and Th e Alchemist by Abd Al Malik Part of the Classical Literature 0 Philology Commons 0 Comparative Literature Commons 0 East Asian Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 European Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 French 0 Francophone Language 0 Literature Commons 0 German Language 0 Literature Commons 0 International 0 Area Studies Commons 0 Linguistics Commons 0 Modern Languages Commons 0 Modern Literature Commons 0 Near Eastern Languages 0 Societies Commons 0 Poetry Commons 0 the Reading 0 Language Commons 0 0 Siobhan M. Mei University of Massachusetts Amherst , USA Follow this and additional works at: http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/transference - Article 14 Siobhan Me? Like a Dream I don?t dream in Arabic or Lingala not in Wolof or Bambara I don?t dream in Spanish or English but I speak, love and dream in French and because they?re not in my head and even less in my heart they say this is still not my home so I dream wide awake that they may understand me. Abd Al Malik Comme dans un r?ve Disintegrated it hurts not to see your face when you look in the mirror it hurts to see yourself as other unable to recognize yourself the sickness of indifference hurts in the beginning the virus of non-recognition is so aggressive in the end you don?t give a damn about the other guy?s face or your own as anonymous as a r?sum? ?cause they?ll laugh at you just the same not just laugh, but straight up rip on you ?cause you seriously don?t look like the guy for the job I mean, your face doesn?t look so square so you?re probably not square yourself D?sint?gr? but they?ll still put your face in a square and from the beginning you?re the only one out of the loop even though we give you what you need to feed the big mouthed fatty lie a lie that?s lookin? real fine go ahead and try, nigger, and we?ll make excuses to your face too bad we just rented it to someone else oh I?m sorry you?re just a little too qualified when there?s one it?s ok but when there?s more than one you know how it is it?s true that you?re pretty different from the rest of your kind and I could keep going on like that? brother, it?s true, you were born here but that doesn?t change a thing it?s ?cause of your face and what?s more you won?t shut your face ?cause you know, your parents said nothin? not to you, not to anybody they threw punches and when they finally had somethin? to say they said you should keep your mouth shut ?cause we were lucky to be here and you said to yourself but where do you want me to be? and you said nothin? on the outside you let your fists fly Transfec and looked around with wide eyes at all the guys who had the same face and the same problems as you you wanted to see somethin? beyond? to really see faces reflected back in the big mirror in the middle of the living room where the whole family sat pretendin? to recognize one another and you finally saw in them who you were supposed to be or should become you smiled at them they said Beat it you opened your arms they said Go home you said to yourself: Even if it means bein? alone you let your fists fly in their faces it really hurts, doesn?t it not to see your face when you look in the mirror. 2016 I was nothin,? or somethin? close to nothin? I was vain and, well, that?s what was linin? my pockets I was full of hate and ill at ease? a hate mixed with fear, ignorance I cried in pain, from this imbalance in my own existence I was dead and, hey, you brought me back to life I said ?I have? or ?I don?t have? and you taught me to say ?I am? You told me ?Black Arab White Jewish is to man what flowers are to water? ah Oh, you, the one I love, and, hey, you, the one I love I?ve crossed so many avenues, waitin,? waitin? for you That when I saw you, I didn?t know if it was you, if it was me, if it was you Oh, you, the one I love, I create your name In the desert of the cities I?ve known ?Cause, I was sure of your existence, knew you?d hear me Hey, you, the one I love, Oh, you, the one I love I was nothin?, or somethin? close to nothin? I was vain and, well, that?s what was linin? my pockets I was full of hate and ill at ease? a hate mixed with fear, ignorance I cried in pain, from this imbalance in my own existence I was dead and, hey, you brought me back to life I said ?I have? or ?I don?t have? and you taught me to say ?I am? You told me ?Black Arab White Jewish is to man what flowers are to water? ah Oh, you, the one I love, and, hey, you, the one I love Neither street nor struggle blocked me from your view Even at my lowest moment When I told myself all was lost I loved you as if I saw you ?Cause even though I didn?t see you I knew you were seein? me. Hey, you the one I love, You are a lion and your heart is a sun The ultimate savior of those lost in sleep And, hey, you, the one I love, Oh, you, the one I love I was nothin?, or somethin? close to nothin? I was vain and well, that?s what was linin? my pockets I was full of hate and ill at ease? a hate mixed with fear, ignorance I cried in pain, from this imbalance in my own existence You are, you are the alchemist of my heart And, hey, you, the one I love, Oh you, the one I love And, hey, you, the one I love?1 1 Malik has performed The Alchemist on numerous television shows and at several music and spoken word festivals in France. My translation of L'Alchimiste locates itself at the crossroads of the textualized and performative versions of this piece. The music video for this poem is available here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLCg_ yXQcDE 2016 Abd Al Malik (born R?gis Fayette-Mikano) is a French rapper, poet, novelist, filmmaker, and spoken word artist, whose writing and music address issues of religion, nationalism, and race. Born in 1975 in Paris, Malik?s family briefly returned to the Congo before settling in Strasbourg in the housing project of Neuhof, which serves as the backdrop for much of his earlier writing. In 1999 after founding the spoken word group, The New African Poets, Malik converted to Islam, a conversion that marked the beginning of a lifetime of advocacy for peace and unity among the diverse populations of France. His film Qu?Allah b?nisse la France (based on his autobiography by the same title) was released in 2014. It is the performative nature of Malik?s work that formally poses the greatest challenge to the translator. Much of Malik?s poetry rings with an oral quality native to rap and spoken word? hesitations, silences, murmurs come together textually without losing their original connection to the microphone. In so many of the poems and short pieces in this collection, the texture of Malik?s voice is present; the rhythm with which he speaks, performs, belongs to the streets in Strasbourg he grew up on, his words come together as quickly and softly as they do violently. Though he doesn?t completely ignore grammatical conventions he does bend them, as we often do when we speak, revealing to what extent language becomes but one tool among many for telling one?s story. As a translator the oral quality of Malik?s poems proved difficult to capture. Not simply because I struggled to identify the relationship between utterance and text, but because of Malik?s awareness of the ideological implications of language. Though Malik does not hesitate to use the language and expressions of the immigrant and primarily black community he grew up in, he has made a name for himself in using this language to resist any kind of closed or permanent understanding of who he is. He doesn?t hesitate to quote Deleuze and Jay Z in the same sentence, to find poetry in the eyes of the dogs that roam his neighborhood. Malik?s work reveals that there are no rules in language nor in literature, but that disenfranchisement, racism, political corruption, and despair continue to diminish the voices of young, marginalized writers.


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Siobhan M Mei. Like a Dream, Disintegrated, and The Alchemist by Abd Al Malik, Transference, 2016,