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Review: State of Emergency, by Soleïman Adel Guémar

Bilal Hashmi, Le Panoptique

from the article Fictions of Emergency

The poems in the collection are thoughtful and deeply moving reflections on the plight of a people held under siege by its own government. Guémar's playful use of language, which is often carried across skilfully in the translations, is characterized by a gritty aestheticism, as in the poem Certitudes (Certainties): I don't trust your rifles/ that silently kill/ solitary hope/ automatically. In poems like Les sans voix (The Voiceless), the author reiterates the act of witnessing, the compulsion to speak the terror of murderous minutes/ that regulate the silence.
Throughout the volume, one finds traces of Guémar's journalistic vigour, which surpasses mere references to publicized acts of state violence, such as the massacre of more than 500 demonstrators in Algiers and surrounding cities in 1988; or the series of extra-judicial murders carried out in Kabylia beginning in 2001...