Showing posts from January, 2013

JOYCE MANSOUR is there hope?

Because I have my whole life ahead of me

 I search in vain for a reflection of my joy
In the hole where I thought I’d find your heart
I dug that hole in the centre of your body
Of ebony and ivory of thirst and blood
So I could hide my glasses there so I could scribble my fear there
So I would know if there really are strawberries for lunch
Or only black pudding

Translated by Carol Martin-Sperry

Vainement je cherche un reflet de ma joie
Dans le trou ou je pensais trouver ton Coeur
D’ebene et d’ivoire de soif et de sang
Pour y cacher mes lunettes pour y griffonner ma peur
Pour savoir si vraiment il y des fraises pour le dejeuner
Ou seulement du boudin noir

JOYCE MANSOUR the mental pain of sex

Lying on my bed
                         I see your face reflected on the wall
                         Your shadowless body scaring mine
                         Your frantic and rhythmic comings and goings
                         Your grimaces chasing all the furniture from the room
                         Apart from the bed anchored by my liar’s sweat
                         And me waiting without cover or hope
                         For the agony.

                         JOYCE  MANSOUR                          Translated by Carol Martin-Sperry

                         Couchee sur mon lit                          Je vois ton visage reflete sur le mur
                         Ton corps sans ombre qui fait peur au mien
                         Tes allees et venues frenetiques et cadencees
                         Tes grimaces qui vont fuir tout les meubles de la piece
                          Sauf le lit ancre par ma sueur de mensonge
                          Et moi …


Why are boys apparently more assertive and confident than girls? Young women seem to have more issues with self-esteem than young men, they need approval and affirmation from an early age. Boys on the whole are more likely to be risk-takers. Girls tend not to break the rules, they are more compliant. When it comes to attention-seeking, girls can be devious and manipulative, whereas boys just shout louder or behave badly in more obvious ways. These gender-specific roles play out in school. The advantages for young women is that they are now making the most of their education and forging ahead while the boys lag behind. Men may lead in high-tech careers and entrepreneurship but women are overtaking them in medicine and law, although they are under-represented in the boardrooms. There is still a gender pay-gap but many women are becoming economically independent and often out-earn their partners. What effect is this having on the male psyche? Many men feel emasculated by their successful p…

JOYCE MANSOUR a declaration of love

I want to sleep side by side with you
                        Hair intermingled
                        Genitals linked
                         Your mouth as a pillow.
                         I want to sleep back to back with you
                        No breath to separate us
                        No words to distract us
                        No lying eyes
                        No clothes.
                        I want to sleep breast to breast with you
                       Contorted, sweat
                       Shining from a thousand shudders
                       Consumed by the insane inertia of ecstasy
                       Splayed across your shadow
                       Hammered by your tongue
                       Dying between your decayed rabbit’s teeth

                      JOYCE  MANSOURTranslated by Carol Martin-Sperry
Je veux dormir avec toi coude a coude


Listen to me
                          Your hands listen to me
                          Do not close your eyes
                          My legs remain open
                          Despite the howling midday light
                          Despite the flies
                          Do not refuse my words
                          Do not shrug your shoulders
                          Listen to me, my God
                          I paid my dues
                         And my prayers are just as good as my neighbour’s.
                          Tes mains m’ecoutent
                          Ne ferme pas tes yeux
                          Mes jambes restent ouvertes
                          Malgre la lumiere hurlante de midi
                          Malgre les mouches
                          Ne refuse pas mes paroles
                          Ne hausse pas tes epaules
                           Ecoute-moi, mon Dieu

JOYCE MANSOUR vampire fantasy

I opened your head
To read your thoughts
I crunched your eyes
To taste your sight
I drank your blood
To know your desire
And your trembling body
Became my food.

JOYCE MANSOUR Translated by Carol Martin-Sperry
J’ai ouvert ta tete
Pour lire tes pensees.
J’ai croque tes yeux
 Pour gouter ta vue.
J’ai bu ton sang
Pour connaitre ton desir
Et de ton corps frissonnant
J’ai fait mon aliment.


I first came across Joyce Mansour’s poetry at the Surrealists exhibition at Tate Modern. I was immediately struck by her fierce and passionate voice, especially in her poems about love and desire. She definitely brings something original to the subject.
The poems I have chosen express the cruel side of love, both physical and emotional. The madness of love and sex are described with the shocking imagery and violent fantasies of the insane. Yet there is also an extraordinary and moving tenderness and sensitivity in her work. These poems cannot be called subtle, they are stark and painful, with an almost frightening and obsessive streak of sado-masochism. Therein lie their power and their beauty. One believes utterly in the reality of her feelings, they are brutally honest. Mansour is not setting out to impress or shock the reader yet that is the effect that they have.
Joyce Mansour’s poems are both modern and timeless. Her vocabulary is precise, her choice of words and images is often un…


First you need to get born. Female foetuses are at risk of abortion. At birth you may be abandoned or murdered. Schooling? More important for boys. At puberty you may be married off to an older man. Or sexually abused. You are quite likely to fall pregnant in your mid-teens. As a young adult you are at risk of sexual assault and rape. If that happens it will be your fault and you will carry the guilt and shame. You may be dis-figured by acid attacks. There may even be an honour killing.
 If women are not submissive and cowering men feel aggrieved and emasculated. Their sense of entitlement is threatened by female empowerment. Patriarchy and misogyny rule.  India's attitude to women is down there with Pakistan, Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. And yet India is a growing democracy with a strong economic future. What hope for the poor uneducated undervalued women?