Within the Opaque Mirror: The Poetry of El-Mahdi Acherchour

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Crowley, Patrick
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The poetry of El-Mahdi Acherchour (1973) is hermetic, errant, marked by longing. His first volume, L’Œil de l’égaré (1997) nods towards the Andalusian Sufi mystic Muḥyī al-Dīn Ibn al-ʿArabī (1165–1240), the epigraph to the second volume, Le Chemin des choses nocturnes (2003) acknowledges the French poet René Char (1907–1988) but draws the reader into the metaphor of the mirror that returns us to Ibn al- ʿArabī; not to his notion of unity beyond duality but to a reflection that traces the troubling of the lyrical subject, desire and the possibilities of a poetry without origin. These publications come as Algeria’s décennie noire draws to its end and if Acherchour’s poetry obliquely references the violence of that period, it does so by enfolding it into the pursuit of poetry through a language both clear and opaque. Drawing on recent scholarship (Elhariry, 2017), as well as the work of Glissant and Khatibi, this article tracks and analyses Acherchour’s pursuit of a poetics that secretes fragments of the past (personal, historical, poetic) into opaque forms that draw from both Ibn al- ʿArabī and French letters and, further still, from writers such as Borges. El-Mahdi Acherchour, a Kabyle, was born in Sidi Aïch and has lived mainly in Holland since 2005.
El-Mahdi Acherchour , Algerian Poetry
Crowley, P. (2020) 'Within the Opaque Mirror: The Poetry of El-Mahdi Acherchour', Yale French Studies, (137/138), pp. 251-272.
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