‘A Confession,’ by Tunisian Poet Sami Messelmani

Translator Sihem Hammouda shares a favorite poem by Tunisian poet Sami Messelmani

By Sihem Hammouda

Sami Messelmani, who writes mostly prose poetry, is one of Tunisia’s most distinguished poets in Tunisia. In addition to being a poet, he is also a teacher and a critic. One of his best-known works is Pillows of an Exhausted Wave.

A Confession

By Sami Messelmani

Translated by Sihem Hammouda

I realize that many

do not acknowledge me,

do not see me as a rose-seller:

one who arranges lilies

or serves up carnations

perhaps because I am too calm,

like a cold fire,

and I don’t chase the

resounding booms,

nor do I have I great desire

to lie down

like a face, its features erased

I will not be angered by their disregard,

everything they say,

will be but stray arrows

eternally drowning

in false lights

I do not care about the limelight,

their bright lights

infect me with an intellectual insomnia

shrinking my soul,

and blinding my eyes,


have not yet become accustomed to tapping tambourines.

Sihem Hammouda is a Tunisian writer and translator who works between English, Arabic, and French. She also works as a teacher.