RANDOM HANDSHAKES - ALI H. RADDAOUI

Saturday, October 23, 2010

همس آخر الليل

في دجى ما قبل الفجرِ
كنا نجرِي
في طريقٍ لا تضاريسَ له
فركت عيناها الجبالُ والهضابُ
وتوضتْ
بندًى من هزيعِ الليلِ
همست في السرِ
صلواتِ السترِ
لما هبَ ومن دب من خلقِ
على أديمِ الأرضِ ساعٍ
أو في الفضاءِ الشاسعِ سارٍ
بهدًى من قدْسِ المكانِ
خففَ الوطأَ خليلي
لما جاءتْ تتهادى
بخُطى الهادئِ
أنثى غزالْ
حدقتْ في النور برْهة
ثم شقتْ
تحت جنجِ الفجرِ
إلى حيث الأمانْ
في أمانْ

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

الأستاذ علي الهاشمي رداوي في قراءة لقصيدة أبو القاسم الشابي

إن هي إلا محاولة أولى لمزيد التعريف بالشعر العربي. اخترت لكم في البداية قصيدة الشاعر التونسي المرموق أبو القاسم الشابي والتي عنوانها: سأعيش رغم الداء والأعداء. وإن كان من بين القراء من يريد أن أستضيفه في قراءة لهذه القصيدة أو لغيرها، فسوف أكون سعيدا بذلك على أن يرسل لي وثيقة صوتية أو فيديو أتولى شخصيا عرضه في الموقع مع الشكر المسبق
video

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A reading of poem by Hilaire Belloc titled "Tarantella" in the voice of Ali H. Raddaoui

This time, I am opting for a video blog. Not that the words are mine -I wish they were - but this is a video recording of a poem by Hilaire Belloc titled TARANTELLA, in my voice. I have come to like this piece for its stunning musical effects and rather deep, sobering meaning. This poem is descriptive of two situations, before and after. The poet recreates the life and commotion that were characteristic of an inn for a very long time, and celebrates in words, music, and rhythm, a jovial and lively scene. Then comes a sudden closure where a completely new picture is painted, one where the whole of first scene is wiped out only to be replaced by the sound of a torrent that must have swept the inn and its brouhahah into oblivion. It is now mere memory. Thank you for watching.

video

Ali H. Raddaoui, reading a poem by Hilaire Belloc titled: TARANTELLA.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

WORKING WITH SOCIAL SOFTWARE: GOOGLE DOCS AS AN EXAMPLE

The idea behind Google docs is that of collaboration among networked students, employees or citizens all over the world. Google docs is a free social software provided by Google. What it does is to create, maintain, edit and save documents in the cloud that you can invite others to view and/or edit, as you deem appropriate. In other words, this document is not on your hard drive, it’s in on the internet and it can be accessed, edited, and enriched 24/7 from any computer with an internet connection by anyone you wish to share it with. It comes with a user-friendly menu is similar to any word processing software like MS Word or Open Office Text document, and so there is little that you have to learn anew. Here is a screenshot of the program in use:




Compared to sending documents back and forth using email attachments, and receiving feedback or copies with edits on them effected by the senders, Google docs is a real-time collaboration tool. Here is how I have used it with my University of Wyoming students in one of the courses I have taught this year.

***

Firstly, you need a reason to use it. Very often, instructors ask students to write individual reports, papers or answers to an assignment. For the course I was teaching, the assignment was for students to write a paper on how Americans perceive Arabs. Much work was needed to get this paper ready, including conducing a decent literature review, agreeing on the methodology, learning enough about the ethics involved in data collection and the protection of subjects, and so on. In the end, we agreed to prepare a jointly-authored document and make a public presentation of our work. Each of the six students enrolled in the course chose to take care of one section of the presentation, to make that part readily available for viewing and enrichment by all other students. Google docs was the perfect host. Students were encouraged to work on the joint document both in the classroom and at home. Most of the work took place in the classroom though, and we agreed that there was no place for an inflated ego. Anything that appeared on the document was subject to scrutiny and editing by all. The merit of Google Docs is that it keeps a history of its own development, and so, if we wanted to revert to an earlier version of the document, we could.

***

What have we learned from this exercise? Well, a number of things: (i) Collective authorship is exciting and rewarding. The document quickly starts to take shape and grow in size; each student works on their section while some went a step further and made changes on their classmates’ sections. (ii) The existence of one central document that all participants can work on together simply means that all heads are put together. (iii) Instead of the regular ‘students write for the teacher’ paradigm, now students are writing with and for each other with the teacher facilitating, overseeing and also participating. (iv) Student collective work can be made visible to others that class may wish to invite, and (v) No time is wasted on access, and everyone is on the same page, (vi) Though the work is collective, there is no loss of student individuality; (vii) Students see, first hand, that together, they can create and author content. Because this content is collectively vetted, it has some claim to representing their collective if provisional, truths, understandings, and representations of reality.

***

Two comments are in order on the downside: (i) as usual, some students are more vigorously committed than others. This is a plus for those with potential for organizing and leading, but some may hide behind this collective action, and (ii) while all six students were all busy writing and editing the in-cloud document, it was often the case that clicking on the save button results in the loss of some data that is being inputted by a person other than the one who does the saving.

***

What has your experience been with Google Docs or other collective authorship tools? Have you used them strictly in academic contexts or also outside? What do you think is their potential for learning, teaching and joint content creation?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

MY EXPERIENCE WITH SOCIAL SOFTWARE AS A LEARNING TOOL


Let me just begin with my own brief definition of social software. Social software refers to software programs used to achieve learning and collaboration via the internet among regular individuals as well as between learners and teachers, in addition to, or instead of, traditional, face-to-face teaching in the confines of the classroom. What is characteristic of conventional face-to-face learning paradigm is that the teacher is seen more or less as a source of knowledge whose job is to transmit knowledge to students whose charge is to receive that knowledge. What social software does is to provide a frame where learners stand a much better chance at achieving learning through personal engagement as well as through social networking with the teacher, with their peers and with knowers all around. Though in most cases, the teacher still has monopoly over the goals performance objectives set for the course, students play a more active role in learning individually and collectively.

My experience over the past few years with social software have mostly been with the following platforms: wikis, blogs, GoogleDocs, Elluminate, and GoogleWave. One difference between such platforms and learning management systems (LMS) such as Nicenet, Blackboard, Moodle, and Sakai is the latter tend to be closed spaces where the course is restricted to the students enrolled in it, whereas the former tend to be more open. The other difference is that LMSs have often been conceived as one-way systems of communication where the level of interactivity is generally less than it is with wikis and similar platforms. It is noteworthy that nowadays, the distinction is less straightforward because LMSs like Moodle, Sakai, and Blackboard for example do provide the functionalities of chatting, blogging, and internal messaging. Below is a description and evaluation of my experience with blogs and wikis.

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Wikis and blogs
I started using blogs and wikis almost concurrently at the University of Sfax, Tunisia. In one teaching methodology course, I hosted all course materials on a wiki provided by Wetpaint. The course requirements were a set of nine assignments that had to be answered through a blog students had to create either Blogger or WordPress. Despite the difficulties this involved, students, whose digital literacy was pretty for the most part when I gave the course in 2007 valued and enjoyed the experience. Excepting the few whose sole goal was just to hit the pass mark, many felt empowered with having ‘constructed’ a space bearing their own name, biography and photo and displaying content that is mostly theirs. A few of them even initiated reactions to classmates’ work, and it felt like a community of learning was in the making. In hindsight, I realize I should have integrated the writing of a reader response as one of the assignments factoring into the final grade.

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Wikis

I also used wikis for student research and created space for each wiki member to host their own research project both at the University of Sfax, Tunisia and the University of Wyoming in Laramie. The idea here was for students to feel accountable for what they write; whereas conventional classroom assignments often meant student had to write for the teacher as main reader and grader, what comes to the fore in this exercise is that students understand the need to target a much wider audience of readers and commentators in addition to the teacher. Their work was no longer something between their rater and themselves but rather involved anyone who chanced to read the research. We are talking of a much wider circle than the classroom or the institution. This could be a world wide audience; knowing your product can be scrutinized and commented upon by anyone inside or outside the group somehow puts you on the spot. With visibility comes greater responsibility. Plagiarism is going to become an issue because the moment a sentence I google appears to be not the result of the author’s genuine work, they realize the importance of intellectual property and that they can only engage in such behavior at their risk and peril.

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Another important perk for using wikis is that research writing is seen as a work in progress on display. Students had access to my online comments on a minimum of two to three drafts, and they could easily compare and see, on the same screen, how they have progressed from first to final draft. At the same time, students with poor scores could easily access examples of finer models completed by other students in the group and model them. This is a simple way of harnessing so called ‘collective intelligence’.

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What has yet to happen?
The movement from the ‘one-way’ Learning management system to the wiki should have meant that students feel empowered enough to actually effect changes on anything they see, as I ask them to join not just as members with such regular privileges as mailing, initiating and responding to discussion topics, but as writers with the ability to change anything they see on the wiki. I make it amply clear on my wikis that everything is in draft mode and I encourage students to implement any changes they see fit, as the wiki has the added advantage of logging the history of its own changes. I note though that students choose not to ‘take liberty’ with material the teacher writes, especially not the course description. Mind you, there is a section in one of the wikis I have developed for course evaluation and some do intervene there, but I have yet to see students clicking on the ‘Easy Edit’ function to reword, correct, enhance, or delete something I have written, as a teacher. Saying this may be one thing, and seeing it done is another, and this may take some doing and learning, on their part as well as mine.

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In my next post, I will evaluate my experience with GoogleDocs.

Monday, April 5, 2010

This may be a statement about our lithium culture where things seem to be over-determined in ways not always to our liking. Sometimes, we become the gadgetry we carry, and let our lives and our selves be driven by it. There is, however, no denying the fact that those machines can serve good purposes. This piece represents such an ambivalent position.

LITHIUM MEN


A man I know

always on the go
Carries a time machine on his wrist
It ticks and ticks and ticks and ticks
It's ticking its day away.
Before he succumbs to sleep,
He hears it tick.
Its lithium battery
Has a lifetime warranty.
The battery, though ostensibly
The heart of our lithium culture,
Is the only friend who's kept him company
For the past eighteen hundred
And thirty-three days.
Watch doctors have declared
The battery days numbered
And her cells nearly dead.
A man I know always on the go
Carries a time machine in his cells
No doubt so close, so dear, and so vital
To his heart.
It ticks and ticks and ticks and ticks
It's ticking his days away.
When he looks
At the unperturbed waters of the lake
He sees it tick and gets perturbed.
The lithium battery doctors could
Conceivably tell
How long it will tick.
Their lithium screens
Could principally declare
His years numbered
And her cells nearly dead.

Ali H. Raddaoui

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Carving a place for oneself in a world gone wildly geometrical is not the easiest of undertakings. While a certain level of determinacy is useful and welcome, I find living one’s life as an all too known a quantity with clearly delineated contours is not of necessity an enticing proposition.

THE NUMBERS


I have to leave the house
The perimeter of the rooms
Squarely a round figure
Neither plus nor minus
The tiles, too, so geometric
There’s no place for a hitch
Else the entrepreneur and the builder
Would be taken to court
And their licenses revoked.
The queen-size bed also
1984-ishly rectangular
Like a post-modernist shawl.
The 75 % polyester comforter
Fell half way on all sides
By sheer petty calculation…
The wall paint a good match
For the color of the cutlery
Hue 253 G.
The mind belches, excuse me!
I have drunk a house-made opiate
The chemistry was flawed
I have to throw up the numbers.
Let me leave
And relinquish control
To the dark womb
Of indeterminate shapes far away;
Far from the cacophony of numbers
I need to crouch
And contribute to nature
As I used to before I was relocated
By the force of modern calculus.
I want to be a free contour
Natural non-number.

A.H. Raddaoui.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


In the face of expert diagnosis, a person often has to decide how to proceed. There is the natural tendency to follow expert advice, because that is what we are expected to do. On the other hand, there are natural tendencies that pop by way of a second, if more primitive opinion, that things, ailments and discomforts have a natural way of healing without intervention.

I WENT TO CONSULT WITH A BARBER

I went to consult with a barber
She said,
‘How long ago did you wash your hair?
There’s layers of soot and rot
Crusts of matter
To cover the scalp
Plenty of dandruff
Merges with this stuff
And look here
There’s traces of nits
And their begetter
Sucking into your grey matter
Man, doesn’t it ever grate or scratch?
Are your nerve endings numb
Or have they stopped to respond?
See, says he,
In such cases,
Some sort of surgery
Is necessary
I’ll grate beneath the follicles
And erase your outer scalp
You got a 70 to 20 chance
That you might grow a decent
Head again…’
***
As I walked back home
Through the garden
I saw nightingale with a bald head
She said:
Do not be the prisoner of fads;
Play not with your head
Stay the course
And the spring rains
Will cleanse your head
Naturally.

***

Ali H. Raddaoui. Laramie, WY. Spring 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

BURGLARY ON THE FOURTH FLOOR

For a person to lose possessions may not mean much, especially if that person hasn’t got much to lose, to start with. Loss of significant others, on the other hand, is not the easiest of predicaments to deal with. Despite the many good things of life, like nurturing hope, sometimes, you wake up one morning to find out that that hope has slipped away, and all you have to retrieve it is to capture an image of what it was before it made itself conspicuous by its absence.

BURGLARY ON THE FOURTH FLOOR

Whoever it was
That broke into my universe
Through a window in my digs
That was let loose
As a matter of practice!
Three months ago
I brought a coleus
Sang to it, watered it,
And placed its pot on the edge
Of the window
So it captures dawn
And the passing of day
And the chirp of the nightingale.
I tucked a note
With a street address
Was it a palm, was it an olive
Was it a cedar or a citrus?
My mind went blank
As I arrived from a night’s trip.
I all but tripped
On the debris of my coleus:
Is roots were naked
Its leaves asphyxiated
Its soil scattered
And the pot shattered
On the ground
So hard was the thud
Below the window;
The note was gone
With the wind.
The ink of the address
Was withering
The postmaster
Wouldn’t know
The zip code or the street
Or the district or the town.
Sender’s address was blotted
Beyond recognition.
Standing on the verge of sanity,
I was grateful
The burglar hadn’t done much
Beyond wreaking havoc
On my plant.
****
Ali H. Raddaoui Spring 2010

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I often wonder how some things momentarily populate the screen of your mind then quickly evaporate, leaving little trace or print. Other impressions, however, have a way of colonizing space of the mind, and cannot be washed away despite repeated attempts to unseat them.

INDELIBLE INK

Everyday I spend
I shake many a hand
Oftentimes I hold the hand
That shakes my hand
We share our germs
And a smile
And catch the flu
Many times in a lifetime.
When I go home, I put my hand
Under the tap
And wash
I then shake my hands
And the drips fly around;
My hands are germ-free.
***
Everyday I spend
I have many handshakes
Of a mental type
Some I enjoy
Some I forget
And some impact me
To the point of compunction.
When I go home,
I put my head under the tap
And wash the inside
Then I shake my head
Some drips fly around
And some cling with their hands
To the core of the mind;
No matter how hard I shake
They will not be shaken away.

Ali H. Raddaoui. Laramie, March 7, 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

ICT-BASED LEARNING AND IMPLICATIONS FOR ASSESSMENT: A VIDEO PRESENTATION


This is a video presentation titled: ‘ICT-Based Learning and Implications for Assessment” that I gave at the Mednine Higher Institute of Applied Studies in Humanities, University of Gabes, Tunisia in the Spring of 2008.

In this presentation, I propose to discuss the emerging ICT-based learning paradigm based on content management systems, mobile learning, social software, and constructivist learning and to delineate in rough outline the corresponding changes at the level of assessment. I begin with an overview of the features of traditional assessment, which, for the most part, consists in an individually-constructed, paper-based, teacher-oriented, reproductive, archive-destined, word-based, in-class assignment. Then, I argue that ICT-enriched assessment is a collaboratively authored, digitally hosted, public and consumer-oriented, multimedia-rich creation. This creation is subject to updating and involves a geographically dispersed, networked community of contributors. Finally, I focus on the challenges in the face of implementing such changes at the levels of learners, content managers and service providers.
Please address your questions and comments to: araddaoui@gmail.comh

video


A pair of negative and positive numbers with the same absolute value are plotting to bring down Zero and establish an equation where they both coalesce on an 0-X-Y graphic, despite the distance. They each have their personal reasons for wanting to ditch Zero, but the latter knows knows its value, and is not ruffled by the conspiracy.

NUMBERS SHOWDOWN

Plus Seven and its mirror friend
Below the X line
Spoke by LAN
And hatched a Zero-less plan:
To squeeze the span
Dividing them,
Sandwich the Zero in-between
And banish it in a no-time zone
Until after the end of time.
***
Plus Seven foresaw
Zero could go
It was, after all, a pedestal
Of Six steps ago
With time passing, she thought
The ladder got firmly glued
Its base only a foot from the bottom
In the event it were to sustain a fall,
There wouldn’t be much to fall
Slide down it would
Or elongate just a little.
***
Minus Seven
Was mindless of Zero
Treated it as distance
To fold until
It reached Plus Seven above
With no feelings to harbor
Except the thought
Zero was a spatial landmark
In the middle of the path
So Seven Below agreed,
without ill-plan
For zero to be banned…
***
But Zero was oblivious
He knew, without Him,
No Equations could stand
He tucked Himself to a belt
And hurled it a measure to the left
And blew a spell
On the trail
Where the twain
Were to melt.

****
Ali H. Raddaoui. Laramie, Wyoming, February 27, 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010


If you were a traveler on a path some place, and reached a crossroads with bridges that take you back and others that lead into the unknown, you would need to pause and think. Would you then decide to rest before or after bridge crossing? This piece of writing is about journeying and wondering where to go…

THE SWADDLE REBUILT

I admit I acted wrong
When I sought to journey back
I have flown the orbit
Ten times since dawn broke
And each time
I land upon a new dawn…
I rest a while
To save the debris of the journey
And images of the first sun…
I think I have
All needle sizes
To re-knit the swaddle
Mom had used
To see me grow out of
My four-legged stance
The needle eye shrinks
The thread declines to pass
The swaddle is debris
Of memories
lost in the space of time
consumed by the dust of the earth
And the afternoon sun…
My hands tremble
Out of fear
The rebuilt swaddle wouldn’t fit
…If only I could recapture
Its shape, discoloring,
Texture, smell, and
The holes in it that let
The wind touch my skin…
But the swaddle refuses to shape…
As I stand on land’s end
I admit I acted wrong…
I now see palm roots
Growing from the slope below
Out into the open new dawn
I hold them, smell them,
Rub them against the pupils of my eyes
And grow some
On my own grey matter…
I take some in the satchel of my memories
And prepare to fly.
Ali H. Raddaoui - February 25, 2010 in Laramie, Wyoming.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

FOURTEEN COMMON ARABIC GREETINGS AND EXPRESSIONS

A friend of mine has asked me to explain and pronounce some of what I believe are the most common Arabic expressions. Many of these happen to be greetings and words that are on people's lips, more often than not. I like to think about this as an experiment, as I haven't posted video blogs before (though I have made some youtube and googlevideo presentations). And so, if you happen to have comments on how I could improve upon this product, I will be most grateful to you.


video

Saturday, February 20, 2010


This is a bit of fiction on the diary of a scorpion as she was perfecting her hole. Naturally, as this story was unfolding at this time, there were New Year Resolutions emerging in her cranial cavity. Those resolutions can only ensue from the nature of her tail. Any similarity to scorpions whose stinging is benign or fatal is purely coincidental.

ENTRY IN THE JOURNAL OF A SCORPION

The digging of her hole digs
Went on for days on end…
Ducked under a boulder
From the Rocky Rif Chain
She dug from Christmas
Well into south eastern Milarae
Having excavated stone and clay
She proudly trailed her tail
For over a week and a day
Into the crannies of the hallways
In her new underworld.
Sitting, she put one leg over another
Patted herself on the declivity
Between her legs and the tail
And resolved in the concavity of her brain:
“This is my world, by Golly,
And mine alone!”
She then constructed another hole
At the entrance of the cave…
Covering it with twigs
She nodded her tail:
“This for visitors who dare to venture
Into my private space”.
She then went to the mound
And posted a sign,
“Welcome travelers,
Vacancies inside”.

Ali H. Raddaoui Winter 2010.





Sunday, February 7, 2010

This is the story of a person who took a budding plant from a mountain and planted it on his land. After some time, this plant grew into a thistle type plant. Attractive though the flower was, its prickles would cause him injury. He went to see a doctor who explained that it is the nature of the thistle to grow a flower with thorns.
***
FARMING THOUGHTS

Unlike my Dad
A farmer at heart
I am more into farming thoughts
Fertile is the Crescent
The plains vast
Greenery goes
So far as eye is cast.
***
I saw a plant budding
On the highlands
And took it to my land
Nurtured it
And sang epics of its land
Till it grew into a fine thistle…
***
Taken apart
The head was rosy
But the prickles all around
More than hit a nerve of the mind.
***
I went to see a healer
In a distant land.
Looking at the palm of his hand
He ruled
I was just a cut away
From my wits’ end.
"Man, re-audit logic 110;
You can’t have the rose
And not the thorn.”
***
Back to my land
I quarantined Self
The thorns
And the land.

Ali H. Raddaoui Laramie, Wyoming. February 6, 2010

Saturday, February 6, 2010


Sometimes, the vista of options opens up and one finds oneself faced with an exciting array of paths to walk. While we may think of this as a specifically human tendency, it seems to me that the question of how an entity constructs its destiny is on the minds of many, including a stray atom, the subject of this piece.

***
PATHS AHEAD

An atom just out of a cyclotron
After some two score years of supervision
In hopes that she learn
To bend to the admin
Ducked in the stem of a fern
And sat wondering,
‘Boy have I got so many options
I’m not even sure where to begin!
I could on the screen of the moon
Post an ad and find a room.
I could even elect to abscond
With a fellow atom
Chucked out of this hell machine.
Then again, I could seek asylum
In the cyclotron
On the other side of the line.
It’s friendly, I hear, to homeless atoms.
When worst comes to worst,
I could reclaim my position
And simply succumb.
But, hell no!
That’s not for me
Now that I am set free
I don’t give a damn about gravity
Nor will Chaos steer my destiny
I’ll see what I can be
With the electrons around me
Ah, I’ll just take a wink
And let my dreams guide me.

Ali H. Raddaoui
February 5, 2010


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This is a hypothetical meeting between two tribe chiefs whose territories are separated by a deep lake that freezes throughout their long winter season. They meet up at dawn to re-enact the special bond that ties them together.

DEICING

At minus twenty-seven,
They both convened
Each leader of their clan,
And talked that dawn
By the shores of Lake Huyam.
On either side, their dominions lay.
The lake, it straddles
Some quasi-rectangular form
From beginning to end
Except for concavities on either end
And a chasm of
One nautical mile, more or less.
Depth, at its deepest,
Was deeper than bridge
Can hope to span…
Boats freeze,
Shipmasters sleep,
Shrubs yield,
Crows grieve,
The night of day…

They stood and hugged
And their tears ran;
Then each went his own way.

Ali H. Raddaoui. Laramie, on this 2nd day of February, 2010

Saturday, January 30, 2010


This is a legend, real or imagined, from the depth of the human psyche. It could be a story that you’ve heard, or are capable of conceiving, unassisted, as you, child of the universe, ponder your small place among the prominent features our vast space, distant and close.
****
THE MOON AND THE CHILD

Later on as night fell
A Southern cloud
The size of Loveland
Stood between the Moon
And a brooding child…
His grandma had often said:
‘Son of my son,
When you grow old
We’ll get you wed
To Lady Moon.
For now', she added,

'Let her be just a friend.'

***

Ali H. Raddaoui. In Larmie, on this 29 night of January 2010.


احتراف بدرية بنت العيد السعيدي

أطفأت النور ووضعت رأسها على الوسادة بعد ساعات من تصفح المواقع على الشبكة. كانت عيناها تحرقانها بمفعول التحديق في الشاشة. الهزيع الأخير من الليل هادئ إلا ما يصل سمعها من مواء القطط على حاويات القمامة في الشارع. تقلبت في فراشها أربع أو خمس مرات. يبدو أن هناك جوربا أو قميصا بقي على السرير يزعجها. بحثت عنه بيدها تحت الغطاء الكثيف، تحسسته لفترة ووجدته فرمته أرضا بعصبية إلى جانب السرير. أغمضت عينيها دقيقة وهي تحاول أن تخلد إلى النوم ولكن نورا خافتا كان يتسرب من وراء البرداية. أدارت جسمها للجهة الأخرى وجمعت جزء كبيرا من الغطاء ووضعته تحت يدها. كانت ركبتاها تلمسان بعضيمها البعض وخيل إليها أن الوزن الذي فقدته في الأشهر الاخيرة قد جعل عظامها ناتئة بعض الشيء ولم تكن تحس بالراحة في هذا الوضع.... استلقت على ظهرها وأبعدت الوسادة من
تحت رأسها. كانت تكره هذا الوضع لانه مدعاة في الكثير من الاوقات الى كوابيس لا تنتهي.
***
كان لا بد لها من ان تنام. غدا يوم عمل. تضع بدرية بنت العيد السعيدي المنبه على الساعة السادسة صباحا في كل يوم من أيام العمل. انتهت عطلة نهاية الأسبوع وغدا تعود للعمل. بدرية فتاة أنيقة وموسرة في العقد الثالث من عمرها، وهي تعمل موظفة في شركة تهيأ المواقع على الشبكة العالمية لفائدة الشركات الجديدة التي بدأت تجتاح البلد. هي مسؤولة عن إخراج المواقع من بدايتها إلى صفتها النهائية. في المكتب المحاذي لمكتبها موظف في الأربعين من عمره يهتم بجانب الترجمة، فالشركات العالمية والمحلية في المدينة تسعى لان يكون لديها مواقع باللغة الأجنبية زيادة على الموقع المعرب. ***
غدا صباحا بعد أن تصل بدرية إلى المكتب، سوف تحضر لنفسها قهوة تركية ثم ستجلس لمدة ربع ساعة أو نصف ساعة للإجابة على تساؤلات الزبائن حول موعد تسليم المواقع جاهزة أو روابط في تلك المواقع لا تفضي الى صفحات أخرى، أو إدخال تحسينات على مواقع تم تسليمها قبل أسبوع أو شهر أو أكثر.
***
وصل سمعها جرس الساعة الحائطية خافتا من الصالون مشيرا إلى الساعة الثالثة. فركت عينيها وأعمضتهما بشدة. "لن ينطفا نور العمود الكهربائي قبل الساعة الخامسة صباحا فلا تربطي نومك به". بقيت أصابعها تغطي عينيها لبرهة قفزت بعدها من الفراش واتجهت إلى المطبخ. قرأت في مجلة "صحتك سيدتي" قبل أيام أن الحليب البارد مضاد للأرق. تناولت كأسا من الحليب على عجل ورجعت إلى الفراش....
***
"يا الله يا بدرية. نامي. لا تبحثي عن حسان في دردشات البحار... لا تبحثي عنه في مكاتب الشركة. حسان انسان له هواياته وهو يضعها قبل كل اعتبار. كل حديثه في الأسبوع الماضي كان عن رحلة قام بها الى ماليزيا في الصيف. إنه يحب المدن أكثر ما يحب البشر في المدينة، يحب الأطر أكثر ما يحب الصور. حسان يعطيك انطباعا بأن كل ما يشاهده في الحياة كأنما يشاهده في فلم على الشاشة الصغيرة. أنه يبدو خال من المشاعر. البشر بالنسبة له نقاط تستدعي التحليل والتوقف وتجاربه معهم نقاط يضيفها إلى سيرته الذاتية غير المكتوبة التي يشرك فيها القاصي والداني. ثم إن حسان من بيئة مختلفة، تعامله مع البشر يبدو مبرمجا ومتكلفا ومحسوبا إلى حدود الغثيان. كلا، كلا، يا بدرية بنت العيد، اصمدي. ربما خيل إليك أن قلبك قد خفق لحسان عندما شربت معه قهوة في فندق الشراتون لما نظمت الشركة ورشة العمل في الشهر الماضي... ربما كنت تظنيه متألقا ولطيفا عندما سرد نكتته عن جحا الذي سرق حماره في السوق فأخذ يهدد الناس بأنه سيفعل ما فعله والده عندما سرق حماره فقال انه اشترى حمارا آخر. يا بدور بنت العيد، ألم تسمعيه قبل يومين في الكافتيرا التي في الدور السفلي من مبني الشركة وهو يسرد نفس النكتة لهند الماطري ثم يقهقه وكانما سمع النكتة لأول مرة. كم انت سخيف يا حسان. أتتعامل معي وكأني نسخة مطابقة من غيرى من بنات البشر؟ قولي له يا بدرية بطريقتك الخاصة، اذهب إلى الجحيم يا حسان. دعني وشأني... إني نسخة من نفسي ولن أكون لك هواية إضافية، أو قولي له يا حسان انت هاو وانا تجاوزت الهوايات. أنا أحب الاحتراف، أنا محترفة في شعوري، إنا أحب الصفاء..."
***
أخذت حقيبتها من السيارة ودخلت مكاتب الشركة بعجالة. كانت تريد أن تصل إلى مكتبها قبل وصول حسان حتى لا تقع عينها على عينه. استجمعت قواها. قررت أن تفرض على نفسها التعامل معه كما لو كان لقطة في فلم طويل. مرت أمام مكتبه. رآها تمشي مسرعة وعيناها تنظران إلى الأمام كما يفعل نائب مدير الشركة. تمنى لحظة لو أنها تنظر إليه وتقول: "كيفك يا حسان؟". طأطأ رأسه مطولا. ارتعشت يداه وهو يمد يده لتناول قهوته التركية، ثم عاد ليواصل قراءة خبر عن عجز رجال الإطفاء على محاصرة حريق شب في الغابات الاستوائية منذ ما يزيد عن الشهر...

Monday, January 25, 2010


Sometimes, one is so lucky as to get inspiration from any number of sources, each in its own way shedding light on certain dimensions of aesthetic appeal though incarnating the all-important notion of harmony within the self and a natural ability to mesh with the immediate and cosmic environment.
****
THE MOON WITHIN

I visited with a pond
With a friend
In the outskirts of town
There were three moons
The one in the pond so bright
You could see the mermaids
Wiggling in water
They sang Baez, Parton, Chapman
Thrush, hill and tree chimed in...
This early a.m. hour bid me
Adieu
I walked home
The alleyways were empty
The streets asleep
And the sounds showed my way...

Ali H. Raddaoui, summer 1988/January 2010.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

In this post, I take three pieces of cloth of different hues and slightly-differing sizes, and I try to weave them into one single design. Hopefully the design can have a name, and a pattern to string the fragments together. I don’t know how these pieces ended up in my cupboard, but they have been there for over a month now, pleading to be redeemed into something useful. Some of them have asked for a chance to undo them back into their original, separate, and primitive states, should they not like the final product, and so, I will wait and see how YOU receive them.

---------
DISPARATE TRACKS


By the edges of Labonte
At two in the morn,
Neither cold nor warm
The mermaids kept singing
They weren’t singing for joy
Or because they were sad
They just sang.

------------

Umm Basoos bet fifty shillings
On her second horse
In the Breeders’ Cup.
Antar ranked twenty and first.
Avenging her loss
Umm sentenced her first horse
To drinking water
From a salty source
For a month and a half.

----------

‘Peek-a-boo’, smiled Abu
‘Pick Abu’, said Baby Sue,
‘See this apple,
Well this apple ain’t for you.’
*****
Ali H. Raddaoui. January 24, 2010

Thursday, January 21, 2010


In this post, I wish to share a poem and to shed some light on its inception. I imagined a situation in which there was a swimming pool for children, and another one for older people. The narrator gets into the children's pool and describes its sweet noises and joys. He remembers suddenly that at fifty plus, he is no longer a child, though he could almost see the child in him. In the midst of this thought, a life guard asks him to leave the children's swimming pool and go to that for grown-ups. At that point, he feels the water is getting rather cold. He goes to the shower to warm up a bit, and then, goes out into the street.
***
COLD DREAM

As I jumped into the pool
The life guards didn’t see me.
The water was uterus-warm
Children’s voices filled the air
They hovered and flapped their little wings
Splashed water with their feet
And threw drops on each other’s faces.

At fifty plus
I didn’t have the feet of children
I couldn’t afford to tie swimming aids
Around my waist to keep me floating
But my heart hovered
I could nearly hear the child in me…

From her promontory
A life guard whispered to me:
“Please proceed to the pool for grown-ups,
This one is only for children”.

The water turned cold
I retreated into the shower
And soon out into the street.
January 19, 2010

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

LEARNING TO SERVE THE COMMUNITY: MARTIN LUTHER KING SERVICE DAY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

In this post, I wish to talk about how the Martin Luther King ‘day off’ was celebrated here at the University of Wyoming on the 18th day of January 2010. For me, this was a unique experience and I am glad to report that it has changed me in ways I am grateful for.

First off, people celebrate the work and spirit of the Reverend Martin Luther King with a day off. Over here, and I guess in many parts of the US, this message has changed into the following: it’s the Martin Luther King Day On. Now, that’s a pretty cool pun on words but it’s also an indication that people at many levels agree that there is much work to be done yet to concretize social justice in such a manner that all the people of this country and peoples of the world benefit from this beautiful concept.

Secondly, for the first time in my life, I felt I had a chance to give to the community. How did this go? Well, as an academic, I have always served the various institutions at which I worked. I did that primarily through teaching, supervision and representation in local, national and international conferences; I have always considered that whatever we do in the classroom by way of teaching, research and supervision should be based on the concepts of social responsibility, social justice, and the common good. At times, this was my first message especially with classes conducting research, so as to provide a framework that goes beyond rigor in methodology and to instill that research work with an agenda that seeks to address social issues with the explicit aim of elaborating solutions that alleviate pain and identify injustice wherever we can see it in our areas of expertise. That was always at the level of rhetoric and in the confines of one’s area of specialization. In other words, it was more like theoretical work, more like reciting an oath of allegiance without really doing anything about it.

Over the past few days, as the message that commemoration of the life of Dr. King was to be turned into a day of action, I signed up. The University of Wyoming Center for Volunteer Service wanted to make a difference in the lives of the local community through addressing the needs of its less fortunate members of this community who couldn’t afford to weatherize their homes and workplaces. Those who signed up for this day of service were to help with energy saving through sealing windows and doors in residences and workplaces where the cold Wyoming winter was more acutely felt and also through changing light bulbs with more economical ones. About 150 volunteers showed up the Wyoming Union, preparations were made and as many as fifteen teams were dispatched to where they could make a difference in Laramie, out of their own will, desire, and commitment to helping solve real problems.

There are many other aspects I could comment upon, but I wish to get back to the idea of giving back, of leaving the comfort of one’s home, office and the classroom pulpit so to say, the comfortable confines of the academic’s ivory tower, to really go meet people and impact their lives, in the most modest and humble way possible. I guess this is the first time ever I find me among a group of students, interns, administrators, and faculty, led by a student leader, doing something about what we have been theoretically repeating for years on end. This is a great feeling. I am glad ‘community service’ for me is no longer just a beautiful banner to carry and that there will be further chances to put it into practice.

As a result of this action, I feel without hyperbole that I am a changed person. This may seem like a small experience to some, but I believe it has the capacity to change a persons’ worldview; we all live in what is often termed ‘a-me culture’, but being able to disrupt this equation and to donate part of one’s time and energy to social issues with immediate impact on the lives of others is a unique feeling.

What I have learned is more than I can talk about in this brief post, but I will add that in the process, I have also learned how to winterize my own apartment and have come to meet a fine group of people with whom I have spent quality time. In the end, it is correct to say that this was group effort, and that together, we can a make a difference.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

THE WATERS OF MONTANA

In addition to everything else that it stands for, Wyoming is a land of horses, cows, deer and ranches. An appreciation of country is nothing unusual for many people here. Such topics have often come up in conversations I have had with friends and acquaintances in the past five months I have been here. Though I hail from North Africa, Arabia, or maybe because of that, I haven't found myself in territory that's completely unfamiliar. Among other things, I have listened with much interest and appreciation to Johnny Cash's song ‘Tennessee Stud’, and I know that in Arabic poetry, horsemanship, bravery, and traveling used to be very dear themes to many Arab poets. In these as well as in Johnny Cash's song, sound and meaning often merge, to create a perfect illustration of Alexander Pope's condition for poetic creativity: ‘The sound must seem an echo to the sense’. Recent conversations I have had with one Laramie artist on Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ also come to mind.

'The poem below titled ‘The Waters of Montana’ is a way a personal reaction, not exactly the result of personal experience, but a composite of I know, see, experience imagine and integrate. I use the Arabic name of ‘Antar’ as a name for my imaginary horse, and I see me thus traveling from Kansas to Montana, with the element of snow being added to the mix of personal knowledge and current experience.
***
THE WATERS OF MONTANA
As the hands of time
Ticked by
Antar and I
Scuttled, walked
Rested and galloped
From Kolby, Kansas
To the edge of Custer National Forest.
Snow and darkness
Overtook us.
We unpacked by a vale
To pitch the tent and wait for dawn.
Antar saw a brook
Fancied a drink
And as he stooped,
The water was turning into ice
And declined to get drunk.
Laramie, WY, January 16, 2010