Mohammed Abu-Talib was born in the thirties in Fes, Morocco. In his native city, he received both primay and high school education before he went to the USA to continue his studies. Thus from 1959 to 1964 he studied at Jacksonville State University, Alabama, Howard University, and Georgetown University. Then, he moved to Guanajuato University (Mexico), and from there to Santander (Spain). He also studied linguistics and literature at Heidelberg University (Germany). A path which causes vertigo indeed.
Back in Morocco, he began his career by teaching English at Moulay Idriss High School, Fes. He also taught English and Spanish at the Fes Faculty of Letters between 1964 and 1968, and from 1970 to 1976 he was Chairman of The English Department at the Rabat Faculty of Letters and humanities.
Abu-Talib is considered the founder of English studies in Morocco. Professor Muhammad Raji Zughlul of the Yarmook university, Jordan testifies that for the last thirty years, Abu-Talib had more than anybody else contributed to engineering the structure of English studies in Morocco on a country-wide basis. Through his active participation in teaching, administering, planning, consulting and publishing, Prof. Abu-Talib had shaped English language and literature teaching in Morocco.
Likewise, professor Zaki stresses Abu-Talib’s allegiance to excellence and perfection, and draws attention to his tendency both as a poet and scholar towards enhancing individual identity within the historical and the cultural dimensions of diversity, difference and tolerance which Arabo-Islamic civilisation promotes.
Although Abu-Talib opted for traditional English forms in his writing, his poetry remains characterised by an inherent subversive vein which shows in his in his typically Moroccan humor. Indeed he is one of the few Moroccan writers who ever succeeded in representing Moroccan humor in a foreign language and culture, and that thanks to what professor Zaki calls the poet’s “challenge of seeking coherence between the foreign language and the cultures it carries, on the one hand, and the Arabic language and the civilisations it is associated with, on the other”. The dominant ironical tone in his poetry is due also to the fact that it partakes in the general post-colonial representations of selfhood and otherness, without overlooking the theme of cultural resistance which permeates such poetry.
Mohammed Abu-Talib died in 2000.
Whispers of Grass(poems, 1971)
A Basic Course in Moroccan Arabic( a textbook co-authored with Richard S. Harrell and William S. Carroll et al, 2003)