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Asimi, Malika al- (1946–) - PERSONAL HISTORY, INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS, BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS, PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:, THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE, LEGACY

kitabat kharij poetry women

Moroccan poet, writer, university professor, and politician Malika al-Asimi is an outspoken critic of discrimination against women, especially in public service. She lost her first electoral bid to represent her Marrakech district in the Moroccan parliament, but won the seat on the second try.

PERSONAL HISTORY

Al-Asimi was born in Marrakech, in 1964. She received a Bachelor’s degree in Arabic literature and a certificate in comparative literature. In 1987 she received her M.A. from the College of Arts and Sciences, usually referred to as College of Literature and Humanities, in Rabat. She is a faculty member at the Muhammad V University in Rabat.

Al-Asimi published a journal, al-Ikhtiyar (The Choice), in the early 1970s. She was a contributor to another journal, al-Thaqafa al-Maghribiyya (Maghrebi Culture). Most of her writing is poetry and is devoted to defending women’s rights. She has published two collections of poetry, Kitabat Kharij Aswar al-‘Alam (1988, Writings Outside the Walls of the World), and Aswat Hanjara Mayyita (1989, Voices from a Dead Throat). Another book, al-Mar’a wa Ishkaliyyat al-Dimuqratiyya (Women and the Ambiguities of Democracy) deals with political issues regarding women. She has also published a book on the history of Jam’i al-Fina, the famous square in Marrakech.

INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS

A reading of al-Asimi’s poetry is very revealing of her personality. It is clear that she would not be satisfied with the single role of a mother and wife. Though she uses her poetry to express disapproval of conditions in her country, both social and political, she is clearly convinced that direct involvement in political life is the best way to have an impact on the system and bring about change. She summarizes her position in “Ru’ya” (Vision), the preface to her collection Kitabat Kharij : “Our role in this world is akin to that of a wrestler. We must always be ready to struggle against the many forces of injustice, to obtain our rights” (p. 14).

Al-Asimi’s concern with the human condition encompasses a wide range, and is easily aroused whenever human dignity is trampled. Her position is that “We must learn to refuse to let our humanity be trampled. Dignity comes first …” ( Kitabat Kharij , p. 14). Her passionate love of freedom is described in her poem “Ismi Matar” (My Name is Rain):

I have a baby girl named rain

    I love the breeze of freedom
    Like a unique cat
    Who runs from one jungle to another,
    To avoid people and chains.
#x0A00;                             ( KITABAT KHARIJ , P. 59)

She has been true to her word as expressed in this poem and used her poems, and poetry readings throughout Morocco, to propagate her message and defend the causes she believes in.


In “Ta’asa” (Misery), al-Asimi sheds light on her country’s many social problems, without the slightest effort to embellish reality or provide excuses.


Friends, if you only knew my country,
    Eccentricities and deviant behavior nest in it,
    People smoke hashish and opium,…
    In my country people gulp down alcoholic drinks,
    They steal and aggress.
    The children in every neighborhood have formed treacherous gangs,
    They lead a life of crime and disrepute,…
    They flee their dirty, dark caves,
    And stupid teachers
    Who do not know what children like.
                       ( KITABAT KHARIJ , P. 49-50)

BIOGRAPHICAL HIGHLIGHTS


Name: Malika al-Asimi


Birth: 1964, Marrakech, Morocco


Family: Husband; two stepdaughters and one daughter


Nationality: Moroccan


Education: B.A., M.A. (1987)


PERSONAL CHRONOLOGY:



  • 1970s: Publishes al-Ikhtiyar (The Choice) and contributes to al-Thaqafa al-Maghribiyya (Maghrebi Culture)

  • 1988: Publishes first collection of poetry, Kitabat Kharij Aswar al-’Alam (Writings Outside the Walls of the World)

  • 1989: Publishes second collection of poetry, Aswat Hanjara Mayyita (Voices from a Dead Throat)

The heart of this outraged and often pessimistic poet beats fast in her love poems, as in “al-Qasida al-mas’ura” (The Mad Poem).

My friend,

    Your scent is still singing in my short hair locks,
    Filling my heart with hunger.
    A call, a yelp,
    Change my body into an erupting volcano,
    And my breasts into raging fire.
                     ( KITABAT KHARIJ , P. 78-79)

In “Ziyarat al-Faris al-Qadim” (The Visit of the Ancient Knight), she recalls the powerful memory of a past love, writing,


Your tobacco, departed friend
    Visits me like a nostalgic breath,
    Though you, my departed friend, rarely pay me a visit.
                                               ( KITABAT KHARIJ , P. 88)

Al-Asimi’s ability to lead a public life and participate in the cultural activities of her country is a reflection of the understanding and respect that her husband, a judge, has for her. She appears free to express herself and to move around the country, to be in the spotlight whether as a poet, an academic, or a member of parliament.


Al-Asimi’s research interests are centered on the oral literature of Morocco. She studies the social history of Moroccan women through folktales. She considers those tales an expression of women’s creativity and the early foundations of women’s compositions. In them, she finds the values of her society preserved and transmitted from one generation of women to the next.


THE WORLD’S PERSPECTIVE


Al-Asimi is well known in the Maghreb and in the literary circles of the Arab world. She participates in local literary festivals, which are numerous in Morocco, such as the well-known annual Asila Festival and the Cultural Festival held every summer in Rabat.


LEGACY


Al-Asimi is without doubt a powerful role model for Moroccan women. She divides her time and energy between the duties of a wife, a mother, an academic, and a militant feminist. In a country where women are gradually acquiring greater freedom and a more significant role in political and social affairs, al-Asimi offers a positive example.

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