NYS Writers Institute, March 31, 2009
UAlbany English Professor, translator of Tengour, and 2005 winner of the PEN Poetry in Translation prize Pierre Joris has called Tengour, “one of the Maghreb’s most forceful and visionary poetic voices of the post-colonial era.”
Tengour’s works available in English translation include the poetry collection “Empedokles’s Sandal” (1999), and the narrative poem “The Old Man of the Mountain,” contained in the collection “4X1” (2003).
Author of an influential “Manifesto of Maghrebian Surrealism” in 1981, Tengour explores Algerian cultural identity and memory as they are being “mestizoed” and woven between Orient and Occident, especially under the impact of the experiences of exile and migration.
Major works include “L’Epreuve de l’Arc” (1990), written in the Arabic “maqama” genre of rhymed prose interspersed with rich poetry; “Gens de Mosta” (1997), a novel composed of short stories; and “Ce Tatar-là” (1999), a narrative poem set in the working class suburbs.
As a youth, Tengour studied Sociology in France. Later, after returning to Algeria to do his military service, he continued his studies at Constantine University in Algeria’s third largest urban center. In 1976 Tengour published his first and surrealist poetic work, “Tapapakitaques ou la poésie-île.” As well as publishing in literary journals and poetry anthologies, Tengour has also published many collections of poems, novels and poetic texts. He currently divides his time between Paris and Constantine.
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.