Muftah Al-Ammari


Muftah Al-Ammari is a Libyan poet, novelist, short story writer, playwright, literary critic, and scriptwriter for television. He was born in Benghazi in 1956. After completing his elementary education, he left school, and was enlisted in the Libyan army. As a soldier, he participated in the Chadian war.

A member of Libyan Writers Association, Al-Ammari has served as a consultant for several cultural institutions in Tripoli. He has participated in numerous literary and cultural events and festivals in Libya and other countries, including Iraq (1987, 1998), Syria (1988), and France (2001, 2003). His works have been published in Libyan and Arab print and electronic newspapers and magazines. In 2010 he received the State Appreciation Literary Award, Al-Fateh, and in 2012 he received Arcano Poetry Journal Award.


Muftah Al-Ammari’s poems are translated from the original Arabic into English by poet and translator Nizar Sartawi.


“An Old Dog barking to Give a Piece of Advice”

Like any neglected day
“an old dog is barking to give a piece of advice”
I point precisely at the direction stained with mucus and layers of nicotine,
the broken window in my heart,
at the balconies of Tripoli, throttled with the clouds of smoke rising
from the oil reservoirs that bombs have destroyed.
Like this: an old dog in a refugee room
patiently writes “Three Ants Passing Through A Book”
where the soldier’s biography will not be tolerant at all
I always think of words
as a battle between ferocious tribes
and, paradoxically:
as a lifeguard ring to defeat cancer
That’s why I’m a bad lover
and a poet who doesn’t abide by the teachings of show generals
and who is not very optimistic
not about the burden of backwardness being removed off the imagination
just because the poet, not the soldier,
is the one by who will take the death lying in ambush for languages unawares
to finally come back from the “Martyrs Square”
with a bouquet of roses and a tale glorifying the pottery maker
crafting safe homes for the nationals of emptiness.
Since water without a well-made jar is but a blind monster,
it gives clay the body of a woman with a glittering waist,
a traveling neck, and compassionate hands.
I mean the pottery maker forgotten in the clamor of war.
Since water is also fire’s twin,
it becomes a ferocious, malicious animal
if we let the canopies of grapes dry by themselves.
Whenever we add a gallows, we lose a tree.
Whenever we build a prison, a park disappears.
Like any neglected day:
“an old dog is barking to give a piece of advice.”

Pomegranate Tree

He was a pomegranate tree
He gave me a branch, and said: Learn
I remained awake like sap until he grew up,
and in the twilight phase he became the breast for the prettiest female.
When kinship was a worship
I did not recognize him though he is my kinsman.
He gave me a name
and said: run
and I walked.
When he gave me an armor
my leg was amputated in the war,
and now my cane is taken from his garden
my shadow belongs to him
and I never settle down
Whenever I realized his worship
He became more distant
As if Eve has inserted embers in his nest
he went in delirium for a whole age
I listened to the voice of his hands
until his image turned into ash
and I could not see any trace of the words
while they were between water and clay
save the destinies of my face
My language was cleft into two halves
or more.
I usually walk alone
two souls in one body,
The wind gestures
and the reader gets tired.



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