Audio: Donald Nicholson-Smith on Abdellatif Laâbi


We were very pleased to host French translator Donald Nicholson-Smith to discuss his translation of the career-spanning collection of Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laâbi work In Praise of Defeat. Newly released by Archipelago Books, In Praise of Defeat is a massive selection of 40 years of work from the poet many consider the leading voice of his generation in North African poetry. Nicholson-Smith was in conversation with Two Lines Press’s Scott Esposito/

Below you will find full audio of this event. Because of a recording error, the introductions do not appear on this audio. It begins with Nicholson-Smith discussing Laâbi’s career.

And here is a bio for Nicholson-Smith. In addition to translating Laâbi, Donald Nicholson-Smith has translated French intellectuals and authors including Gianfranco Sanguinetti, Guy Debord, Antonin Artaud, Henri Lefebvre, and Jean-Patrick Manchette. He has worked with Seagull Books, New York Review Books, City Lights, University of California Press, and many others.


0:00 Donald Nicholson-Smith overviewing Laâbi’s life and career

5:30 Laâbi’s “prison poetry”

8:50 a reading of some of Laâbi’s prison poetry

13:15 The challenges of translating Laâbi’s poetry and Nicholson-Smith’s unique approach

22:50 The reasons for publishing Laâbi’s poerty bilingually in French and English, and the advantages to this presentation

29:00 Why Laâbi to chose to write in French and what this meant for Morocco’s poet tradition

36:05 Audience Q & A

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