Thursday, August 17, 2017

Official Review: The Immigrants' Lament by Mois Benarroch online Book Club

Official Review: The Immigrants' Lament by Mois Benarroch

Post Number:#1 by Chrys Brobbey » 12 May 2017, 23:33
[Following is an official review of “The Immigrant's Lament" by Mois Benarroch.]

Book Cover

4 out of 4 stars

Review by Chrys Brobbey

The Immigrant's Lament is a book containing fifty-three poems written by Mois Benarroch, a Moroccan-born Israeli. Originally published in Hebrew in 1994, the English edition of the book was issued in 2016 by Moben Publishing.

The book takes its name from the first poem in the anthology. In that particular poem, and some of the others, the author chronicles his childhood in Morocco and the subsequent migration of his family to Israel. He recounts episodes of their stay in Jerusalem, and how their Israeli dream quickly became a mirage. Some of the poems cover themes such as politics, love, freedom, injustice, war, trust, and culture. The author’s tone varies from being emotional, lighthearted, angry, sad, nostalgic, and ironic to loving, depending on the subject matter of the particular poem.

Poems are generally couched in terse words; they have hidden intent and meaning that have to be deciphered. And as a norm, they are flavored with rhymes, rhythms, metaphors, similes, and other literary devices. Poems are also either written in the narrative or descriptive style. The author here uses the narrative style which best suits his purpose of telling his story to convey a message. Apart from the appropriate use of metaphors and similes, he writes in the free-verse style that avoids the use of the other poetic features that could constrain the proper transmission of his messages and feelings. The end result is that the poems are easy to read and understand.

Through some of the poems the author succeeds in arousing my sympathy to his plight as a reluctant immigrant in Israel. His frustrations come through forcefully when he writes: “I shout my right to be different/in the Israeli society.” As he tries to rediscover himself, the conflict and the ambivalence within him are portrayed when he debates: “I am religious I am not religious.” He goes on to lament: “The more I explain/the less I understand.” It takes a heart of stone not to feel his pain in reading the poems.

What I also like about the poems is the way Mois Benarrach uses them to inform, to educate and to advocate. For instance, in one of the poems he asks: “or are the statutes more still more important/than people?” He poses this question after noting that when the Taliban destroyed a statute of Buddha in Afghanistan all the civilized world protested loudly, but they failed to react in the same way for every single person killed. I got to thinking that since the Hebrew version of the book was published in 1996, the Arab Spring that started in 2010 might have taken its inspiration from the poem in the book on freedom that reads: “Nobody is going to give you freedom/you have to take it/ and take the risks.” The piece I like most is this one which is philosophical and inspirational, as well as rich in imagery: “Come come on you can cope with it/you are stronger than mountains and seas/stronger than waves and winds/We have seen bones walk again.”

As a poetry enthusiast and writer, I recommend The Immigrant's Lament to other fans of poetry. Even those who are not used to reading poems will find this book a good basis for beginners on account of its simplicity. I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars for its clarity and lack of grammatical and editing flaws.

The Immigrant's Lament 
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