State of Emergency
Author: Soleïman Adel Guémar
Original language: French
Published by: Arc, 2007
The poems in this collection are lucid, moving and sometimes shocking. Rooted in Algerian experience, they speak of urgent concerns around the world: oppression, resistance, state violence and private dreams and traumas.
The introduction to this volume by Lisa Appignanesi makes a powerful argument for the importance of Guémar’s poetry in bringing an understanding to the world outside of Algeria of the political, social and artistic repression that exists in that country today. She writes:
'In Soleïman Adel Guémar, Britain has inadvertently inherited a political poet of stature, one whose language sings whether he is attacking the face of grim authority or dreaming of that other asylum which is an imagined Algeria of peace…Deceptively casual, colloquial in their idiom, always dramatic in their pessimism, Guémar’s poems are a searing howl against the brutality which invades everyday Algerian life…This volume marks an important moment: a record from the inside of a history which is too palpably of our times. Where before we had only newspaper headlines, stereotypical Algerians, or the dry, if conscientious, reports of NGOs, we now have a living voice, both political and lyrical – an intensely individual voice which speaks out freely and traces the lineaments of a tragic history.'