By Rachid Khouya
By Rachid Khouya
Smara, Morocco – The soul that has been painted with many beautiful colors of love.
Destiny caused us to meet at the same room in a hotel in the beautiful Moroccan city of El Jadida while attending a national conference for teachers of English in 2005. It was a meeting with a teacher, philosopher, an artist, a poet, and above all with a human being who sings and dances in words of love, beauty, and peace. MWN is glad to introduce this young Moroccan poet from Beni Mellal to audiences both inside and outside Morocco as the world celebrates International Poetry Day. Here is the interview we had with Rachid Acim. In fact, it is not an interview, it is a poem but this time in prose.
1. How can you introduce Rachid Acim as a poet to the reader?
Introducing a Moroccan poet like Rachid Acim will be a thorny experience as the man seems to incarnate a unique poetry style wherein the generosity and innocence of words flow, easily if not effortlessly from a soul that has been painted with many beautiful colors of love, reminding us of those romantic poets who would renounce the world and sing their beloved away from the turmoil of daily life or those new classical poets who report the misery of the masses in a sarcastic tone.
2. What is poetry for you?
For R. Acim, poetry meant nothing but a medium via which he mouths his innermost feelings. “It may be an escape from reality paining so many of us,” he noted pointedly. The poet is a most sensitive being, and he feels obligated to look critically at what’s going on around him. He can’t be silent because poetry speaks within him, reinforces him to reveal those feelings that fall on him like drops of dew.
Like former poets, R. Acim views poetry as acting like the rainbow, inspiring and delighting all living creatures. It isn’t how complex the poetic style is, but what message and images are being communicating to the world. What powerful feelings shape the poet’s thinking and hence his poetry? Doubtless poetry, as R. Acim recounts, brings about a transcendent moment of contemplation, an instance of the sublime.
3. What’s your story with poetry and verses? How did it begin?
Poetry is within us. In any human being, there is a poet who wants to speak at a particular moment. The moments abound in joy, hope, or maybe distress. R. Acim does not remember what exact time he wrote his first poem since he displayed an unparalleled liking for poetry from his infancy. When he was a child, he would fervently recite Arabic poetry. This love for poetry was nurtured when he joined the Qadiri Boutshishi Sufi fraternity in Morocco. There his fellows chant songs in honor of the Prophet Mohammed (peace and prayer be upon him!). Such Sufi affiliation can be heard while reading R. Acim’s poems, “the Red Sulphur,” “Majnoun Leila,” “That Shaft of Light,” “Exalted Fame,” to mention but a few.
4. What are the important themes you write about?
When one reads R. Acim’s poetry, one feels as if embarking with the poet on a very long but enjoyable journey within the realms of love, eternal beauty, social justice, co-existing with the other in complete love, harmony, and tolerance. Such are the themes the poet addresses in much of his poetry.
5. Tunes on my Guitar? What does it mean for you? Why that title?
That title is very revealing for me. It sums up a whole poetic experience I underwent in Marrakech together with many endearing teachers and nice fellows. It was a suggestion offered by Dr. Redouane Saidi, who elegantly introduced me to the Anglophone world.
R. Acim is so much indebted to all his ex-Professors who taught him at the University of Sultan Moulay Slimane, taught him English and instilled in his heart the love of creativity and researching. “It may be unfair to mention some names and forget others,” he observes. Yet, “our teachers, believe me, are hard to recompense. They enlighten us spiritually and intellectually. I simply can’t forget them.”
6. What are some problems of poets in general in Morocco, and of English?
Creative writing for R. Acim is not a craft; rather, it is a sublime moment of being with the self and the other. “You may be based somewhere, but inspiration takes you everywhere,” he adds smilingly.
Poets are de-voiced. I don’t know why.
7. How can you value writing in English in Morocco? What are its obstacles and horizons?
Writing in English is the new fashion for many young Moroccans given the changes our world is experiencing. People want to be read by a large audience, yet a wide range of obstacles hinder many young poets from gaining visibility in their home country. You get many good rewards from friends and nice compliments from your Professors, yet opportunities are as rare as gold in Morocco.
8. Any future Publications?
R. Acim has co-authored a collection of poems with a Portuguese teacher named Maria do Ceu Pires Costa. Their book is titled A Letter to the President of the U.S. It is a shrill call from the two poets to stop the war on earth and help in drawing a smile on the faces of destitute orphans and sorrowful widows who have been all victims to war. Their book can be purchased online at www.chiadoeditora.com.
“Difference has never been a problem in poetry. True poets embrace difference in multifold forms,” R. Acim points out.
9. What is the message of Rachid/the poet through his poetry? Why do you write?
Writing is a great pleasure for R. Acim. It is a moment of recollection. “I write because I love it. I enjoy it much!”
Hold the power of words
And feel it to sustain your days
In warmth and sweetness
Like the bright sun rays.
Maria do Ceu Pires Costa,
A Letter to the President of the U.S., p. 136
10. What is the relation between the teacher and the poet inside R. Acim as a person?
Poets were teachers. They uphold a noble message of truth and beauty, a twofold quality that R. Acim believes in.
11. To what extent do they co-exist and go hand or hand or do they fight inside Rachid’s heart and brain?
I never feel that I’m a teacher or a poet. A teacher’s job is confined to the classroom and the poet feels imprisoned amidst his verses. No, I’m a man full of love to all mankind no matter how different we might be. Poetry can help us explore that love.
And to the Presence, the man gently said:
“I’m longing to meet my Lord
The noble saint raised his head
With a cheerful smile, made a concord
He replied: “And what offering,
Though bringing to your Lord?”
The man answered: “My soul!”
I pray thee to bear witness
I’m one who loves all Mankind.
R. Acim, A letter to the President of the U.S., p. 24.
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