The Teacher

"Mansour Bushnaf"

In 1970, after I completed middle school, I went to Benghazi for the first time to look for a summer job. I believed that a middle school certificate was a strong enough qualification, and I was drawn to Benghazi’s reputation as Libya’s cultural capital and as a hub for writers and poets–a group I felt I belonged to. In my bag, I carried a full-length poetry manuscript. All I needed was a book deal, and I could break into the literary world. 

 

I had just read a riveting book about the ancient history of Libya, titled "Libya: Historical Roots of the Name," which had filled my imagination with Garamantes’ chariots and their pyramids. Even now, as I approach the age of 70, I believe that this book was my biggest source of inspiration. 

In the same building as a contracting company, I found the offices of Al-Kifah newspaper. I handed the editors a stack of my poems, which of course, were never published. 

On Amr Ibn Al-Aas street, I found the headquarters of Al-Amal newspaper, and walked in with confidence. Inside, there was an elegant man and beside him, an Egyptian woman. "I am a poet," I said, and handed the man a stack of my poems, which he took with a smile. Despite the sarcasm I gleaned from his expression, I maintained my composure, and left like any well-established poet would. 

 

The next morning, my first poem was published on the back page of Al-Amal newspaper. 

I only found out later that the man who smiled at me, then published my first poem, was Mustafa Bazama, the author of the book that had ignited my childhood imagination and continues to inspire me to this day.

Born in Bani Walid, a playwright and novelist. He was arrested by the Gaddafi regime in 1976 and spent 12 years in prison due to his writings. His articles have been published in numerous Libyan and Arab newspapers, he has published five plays, and has two novels: “The Gum” in 2008, and “The Golden Dog” in 2019.

Mansour Bushnaf
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