Houda Hajji


Houda Hajji
is a Tunisian poet born in 1965. She studied Arabic language and literature in the Higher Teacher Training Institute in Souse, and she currently works as teacher at a secondary school. She has participated in several literary forums in Tunisia, Libya, and Morocco. Her poems have been translated into English, Italian, Spanish, French, and Indonesian, and published in Arabic and international papers and journals. In 2011 she made her debut with The Ebony of Absence. Her haiku ebook, More Delicious than Icecream appeared a few years later. Her second haiku collection, Between Two Riverbanks was published in Egypt in 2016.

Houda Hajji  poems are translated from the original Arabic into English by poet and translator Nizar Sartawi.


The Scarf of Freedom


While you are buried
what could we say
to the star of your life that burned out?
In the fervor of a flame
you scattered the wreaths of your cry in space
The echo was scented with songs


And while you sleep there
the trees of silence here were tinted
with the colors of butterflies’ wings
the darkness of the mute night loosened
the braids of its golden chirping
and the bunches of freedom fruits were de-stemmed
dripping with the names of martyrs
and the memory of forgotten cities


While you were being buried,
from your spilled blood an ember
blossomed from the torch of winds
igniting the glowing flowers of fire
in the boughs of a thicket of prison cells
to release swarms of millions of sparrows
and light to become a scarf
flowing in the eyes of the hunger-stricken
that they may with the solar threads
darn the holes of a life
torn by years’ foolhardiness


O Dream, Do Not Bow

O dream, slow down!
Do not wait for the ringing of disks
in the middle of your hand
while playing a sad mawwal 1
at the intersection of Poverty Street.
Release the melodies of your fiddle
flocks of pigeons
in their rude eyes.
Do not forget to immerse your fingers
in the honey of the country.
Drink glasses of joy
from the casks of rain.
Do not bow your back before the by-passers.
Trees will be green
Almonds will blossom
even if a sad raven
perches on their bough.
Trees will stand
to the last root in their life.
They die but never break.



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