Friday, December 27, 2013



Ali Znaidi

Age? (Feel free to ignore this question completely)

Born on 27/10/1977


-Parents, three brothers, two sisters.
-As for my marital status, I’m still single.


Redeyef, Gafsa, Tunisia.

It’s a mining town in the south-west of Tunisia. It dates back to the Capsian era. Its economy is based on phosphate. Some cultural events are held from time to time. Besides, some poetry readings (in Arabic language) are performed by local poets or/and by poets from other regions of the country especially during festivals.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing since an early age in Arabic which is my mother tongue. Then, I switched into English as a medium for creative writing. But, to be honest, I have been writing good things since my graduation with a BA in Anglo-American Studies.

Do you have a specific writing style?

No, but I find myself inclined to experimentation.

Do you write as a career?

No, but I hope to do so in the future.

Do you write full-time?

I write part-time.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment as a writer?

Although I am not a native speaker of English, my work (originally written in English) has appeared in numerous notable publications since I have begun submitting.

What is your ultimate goal as a writer?

My ultimate goal as a writer is to be able to leave a certain trace after my death. The idea of    reaching a reader with my work after one hundred years or so would make me feel good in my grave.

What is your greatest challenge as a writer?

My greatest challenge is writer’s block.

What projects of yours have been recently published?

Some of my poems have been recently published in Metazan, Ygdrasil, Altpoetics, The Open Mouse, Call & Response Zine, EgoPHobia, The Piker Press, and The Kitchen Poet (Underground Books).

What are you currently working on and what inspired this work?

I am currently working on poems about Sappho. I hope to write as many poems as I can about this great poetess, if life and energy permit.

Where can we find your work?

Most of it is slumbering on the Internet. Just a click on will wake it up.

How often do you write?

For the time being I write regularly.

How do you react to rejections?

Rejections are part of the writing/submitting process. I accept rejections with fair play, if I can say so, but what annoys me is when an editor keeps my texts for more than 8 months or so then rejects them.

Rejection can be positive in a way because it permits you to work on the text again, polish it and come up with a fresh version. I did revise many rejected texts and submitted them again and they were published.

How do you react when one of your submissions is accepted for publication?

An acceptance email always brightens my mood.

What is your best piece of advice on how to stay sane as a writer?

Well, just be yourself and keep sane! Gradually, you will reach total insanity if you pretend to be insane. The problem lies in pretence.

What is your favorite book?

Many. But let me say F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as you asked about just one book.

Who is your favorite author?

Many. But let me say Walt Whitman as you asked about just one author.

If you could have dinner with one fictional character, who would it be and why?

I would love to have dinner with Lady Macbeth (although she is considered an evil character) because she is an enigmatic character. Besides, I would like to explore the darkened secrets of her seduction and to discover the mechanisms lying behind her genius & power.         
What is the greatest occupational hazard for a writer?

If I understand ‘hazard’ as a possible source of danger, I would say censorship and surveillance. And if I understand ‘hazard’ as a chance and luck, I would say a publishing contract from a well-known publishing house.

What is your favorite word?

What makes you laugh?

It depends on the situation and the mood.

What makes you cry?

Memories, especially good ones.

What is your preferred drink while you write?

Coffee, preferably black.

Beach or Mountains?

Beach, although I live in a mining town surrounded by mountains.

Cats or Dogs?


The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?

The Beatles.

Jimi Hendrix or Frank Sinatra?

Frank Sinatra. (Especially his song “Strangers In The Night”)

Shakespeare or Bukowski?


Please provide as much or as little of the following information as you’d like.

Personal website/blog:

Facebook profile or page: I have none for the time being.

Twitter profile: @AliZnaidi
Other page(s) or profile(s):

 Books for sale and/or press

Experimental Ruminations-Fowlpox Press (Canada)-A free PDF download.
Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems -Origami Poems Project (USA)-A free PDF download.

Anything you’d like to share about your country, its people, or native animals?

Well, Tunisia has a diverse fauna and flora. It is full of animals, insects, and birds.
There are many dangerous snakes especially in the desert which is a part of the African Sahara. Horned vipers and scorpions abound in the Sahara. Insects include the standard crawling insects, as well as flies and biting insects such as mosquitoes. As a Mediterranean country Tunisia hosts a rich variety of species. You can find camels, coyotes, jackals, wild boar, feral water buffalo and several species of gazelle. You can also find the scimitar oryx. The sleeved mouflon is found in the mountains. Leopards used to exist in Tunisia, but they are extinct now. Other smaller mammals include the fennec fox, the lynx, the red squirrel, and the dormouse. Reptiles include a variety of tortoises. There is also a variety of lizards, including geckos, wall lizards, sand racers, sand swimmers and chameleons.
As for birds, we can mention egrets, herons, white storks, spoonbills, greater flamingoes, geese, waders and white-headed ducks. Birds of prey include long- legged buzzards, black-shouldered kites, ospreys, and eagles. Desert areas have coursers, brown-necked ravens, desert warblers, desert sparrows, houbara bustard and a variety of larks.
As for marine creatures, we have crustaceans, mollusks, lobsters, and crabs. Some of the famous fish include sardines, anchovies, tuna, and mackerel.


*Public Holidays:
-January, 1st: New Year’s Day.
-January, 14th: Revolution and Youth Day.
-March, 20th: Independence Day.
-April, 9th: Martyrs’ Day.
-May, 1st: Labour Day.
-July, 25th: Republic Day.
-August, 13th: Women’s Day.
-October, 15th: Evacuation Day.

*Religious Holidays (They are scheduled according to the lunar calendar):
- The Mouled (The Prophet's Birthday)
-Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
-Eid al-Idha (Feast of the Sacrifice)
-Hegire (Islamic New Year)

Food for Special Occasions?

-Molukhia (Jew's mallow) with meat to have a green year. It is eaten on the Hegire Day.
-Malsouka (brik) a fried dough stuffed with tuna and an egg) & tajin (like a frittata or a quiche) are eaten especially during Ramadan.
-Asida (a sweet gruel pudding with honey or sugar and olive oil). It is eaten on the Mouled Day.
-Boiled fava beans, baklawa (layers of thin pastry interspersed with ground pine nuts, almonds, hazelnuts and pistachios, brushed in golden butter, baked and dipped in honey syrup), & samsa (layers of thin pastry alternated with layers of ground roast almonds, and sesame seeds, baked in lemon and rosewater syrup). They are eaten on Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan).
-Couscous with lamb and osbane (pieces of animal gut stuffed with meat and offal. They are eaten on Eid al-Idha (Feast of the Sacrifice).

Everyday Food?

Tunisian food is quite spicy:
-Couscous, the national dish of Tunisia.
-Mechouia hot salad (Grilled hot salad).
-Shorba (soups).
-Slata (salads).
-Marqua (stews).
-Rishta (pastas).
-Kifta (ground meat).
-Kaak (pastries).
-Gnawiya (gombos).
-Merguez (lamb sausage).
-Lamb Stew: A simple stew of lamb cooked with vegetables.
-Chakchouka: A ragout similar to ratatouille with chickpeas, tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onions, served with a poached egg.
-Felfel Mahchi: Sweet peppers stuffed with meat, usually lamb, and served with harissa sauce.
-Fricassé: A tiny sandwich with tuna, harissa, olives and olive oil.
-Houria: Cooked carrot salad.
-Khobz Tabouna: Traditional oven-baked bread. Tunisian Khobz Tabouna is not a flat or pita like bread.
-Lablabi: Rich garlicky soup made with chickpeas.
-Masfouf: A sweetened couscous.
-Oujja: Scrambled egg dish made of tomatoes and mild green chillies supplemented with various meats and harissa.
-Tunisian Salad: Diced cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, onions and seasoned with olive oil.
-Torshi; Turnips marinated with lime juice.
- Harissa is a traditional Tunisian hot chilli paste.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to express myself in this interview. Best wishes for you, Catfish McDaris & for your magazine Ppigpenn!