The Graying of the Raven: Cultural and Sociopolitical Significance of Algerian Folk Poetry
From East to West The raven has turned gray O Reader of the unknown Help us in our ordeal! With a fine touch, Aida Bamia has explored the work of Muhammad bin al-Tayyib 'Alili (c.1894 c.1954), a hitherto virtually unknown oral poet of Algeria, bringing to her analysis new understanding of folk poetry as part of a people's collective memory and their resistance to colonization. For 'Alili's audience the despair and suffering faced by poor farmers before independence is embodied by the raven, grown old and gray with ceaseless frustration and humiliation. Because of its oral and all too often ephemeral nature, the work of poets such as 'Alili could escape close scrutiny by French colonial administrators who sought to eradicate nationalistic and ethnic elements. With succinct commentary, Bamia presents an outstanding historical and contextual background for 'Alili's repertoire, while she details the richness and variety of poetic forms that had developed in North Africa. In doing so, she shows an intimate grasp of the poet's repertoire and technique, as well as of the colonial and postcolonial implications of Algerian folklore and poetry. In their citation for the AUC Middle East Studies Award, the judges noted The Graying of the Raven's "insightful perspective on Algerian society and the experience of colonization as perceived by the individual folk poet."
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The Power of Folk Poetry
The History of the Malhun
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al-balad al-Humma al-Qadum al-Rawz al-Tayyib cAlili Algerian folk poetry Algerian malhun Algerian society Algiers appears arabophones Bedouin Berber Bidun Bidun cunwan Blida broad bean buqala cAbd al-Qadir cala cAlili's poems cAlili's poetry classical Arabic collection colonial administration colonial period colonial policy composed country's culture Daumas Druze Duperre efforts emotions explains expression faclun farmers feelings fiqu French colonial gazelle genre ghayr hadha Hadj-Sadok Halwan hemistichs Hilal humor Islam Jallul Kabyle Karyu khammas language literary literature lived maddah Maghrib Maghribi marabouts means Muhammad bin al-Tayyib Muslim cUlama nostalgia oral oral poetry peasants people's poet poet's poet/narrator poetic political poor popular population position proverb provides Qur'an Qwaydar recited refers rhyme rice salafi Setif massacres Sidi Yacqub social strophic form sung talib texts tion took tool traditional tulba verses wake walis wild edible plants woman women words zajal zawiyas