- Michal (Mitak) Mahgerefteh
Sipping Memories: A Poetic Journal to Morocco
"Sipping Memories brews expansive imagery and rich, local vocabulary into a deep and loving geography of recollection. Mahgerefteh mixes past and present, not only on a personal level but also on a historical-cultural one as well. permits the reader to travel with her, portraying the best aspects of a poetic tour guide. scent of foods and drinks wafts up from the pages, all in context of travels, bazaars, and religion. Without being didactic, the poet offers a lasting "ember of memory" to the reader like a cup of warmth at a significant archaeological dig."
---Daniel Pravda, English Professor at Norfolk State University
Author of "A Bird in the Hand Is a Dumb Bird"
"Even to a reader who has never been to Morocco, its landscape and people come to life in these vivid recollections of the poet. In the poem, The Bazaar at Walled Mellah, we catch a glimpse of [a] bolted David's Shield on every entrance door and like the poet, we experience [our] pulsing heart feels the stones fermenting/ in silence. In her new chapbook, Michal Mahgerefteh succeeds in transmitting her poetic journey and shares her visual and sensual impressions of this picturesque and exotic North African country."
---Dina Ripsman Eylon, Editor-in-Chief
"Women in Judaism: A Multidisciplinary Journal"
"This chapbook is awash in the flavors and textures of Morocco. The poet takes us on the journey with her and we get not only the taste and colors of this country, but we find that the choice of language brings its rhythm to us as well. Sipping Memories, A Poetic Journey to Morocco is for us, the readers, as emotion-warming as the mint tea the poet savors throughout this trip. Who does not want to be "On the Road to Marrakesh," as the poet wanders near the food carts in a meadow stopping to pet the horse that has drawn the cart where fresh mint tea is offered to her. We taste with this poet the tea she drinks up and feel with her, "the surprising ache of desert." In the "Henna Artist," we want it to be our hands that get the "Berber designs framing nails and fingers," as the artist tells the poet that "fish is for prosperity and lions paw for strength." We find ourselves saying, "Of course, of course." When we are taken to the "The Hammam," the poet cannot stop herself as she takes her notebook and "sketches footprints of ancestral mothers." And it is here that we find out what this journey is about for the poet. She is going home to breath in her ancestors. She is finding the rhythm of their life and melding it into hers, and we are privileged to be on this journey with her. This chapbook invites us all to savor the lushness of the poets ancestral landscape in language that is rich and full of the everyday experiences of the people in Morocco. Every color, every scent, every ritual that surrounds the poet while she is making this journey is here. Read this chapbook quietly and carefully ..sipping warm mint tea."
Past President of The Poetry Society of Virginia
author of "How Far is Ordinary"
Picked up a delightful little collection of poems today & read through it this evening. The title of the book holds true, and the poems do in fact real like a journal being kept on a trip through Morocco. All of the poems are wonderfully visual and hit all the senses, painting lovely pictures of different aspects of Moroccan culture from the busy Bazaars, to beggars on the street, a wedding, a bit of nature, and some of the religious sites. All the poems a e very similar in structure, and it helps tie them all together in a lovely complete package of a collection. Very enjoyable. Out of the entries, my favorite poems were: "At The Cusp of the Medina", "The Bazaar at Walled Mellah", "The Sheep Market" (I love sheep in general, so this one was just fun to find) and "The Fabric Market" - Though they were all quite good. I highly recommend it, if you're looking to take a quick trip to Morocco without leaving home.
Welcome to Maroc!
traveling the Atlas Mountains punctuated
by patches of green amid blistering
rocky terrain and brooding silence
afternoon sun pours its last brilliance
over central Rabat frowning somber
faces beneath black chador walking
the crowded alleys of the medina
we stop for a short break on the side
of a busy street thick with ripe dates and figs
approached by a short husky woman
flashing gold teeth offers fresh round
bread topped with pecan butter
almond cookies and cold squeezed lemonade
we sit on stools draped in colorful textile
smoke narghile and drink earthy qahwah
every sip and bite followed by a thankful
smile and repeated cheerful blessings
“Bruch Bikum eMaroc!—Welcome to Morocco”
*Published by Sephardic Foundation Magazine
At the Cusp of the Medina
from the second floor balcony
a blaze of glorious red hibiscus
subtle pink mimosas yellow jasmine
and delicate passion flowers
against blinding crimson bougainvillea
Laila the groundskeeper
rings her bulbous eyes in kohl
shakes a swarthy complexion while raking
leaves from the slab of concrete
embellished with blue ceramic tiles
waking late sleepers to the sound
of brass bangles dangling on fat wrists
tranquility streaming from a large
mosaic fountain and Moroccan music
piped from miniature speakers hidden
in the trunks of palm and olive
snowcapped mountains rise behind
the tall iron gate meeting the horizon
in a pinnacle embrace of golden eventide
I indulge in squares of dark Swiss chocolate
light nargila with apple-flavored shisha
exhale faces of ancestral ghosts
dancing in the slender streaks of smoke
*Published by Blue Minaret Magazine