Mohamed Al-Harthy studied geology and marine science and started his career in a related job, but after a brief period, resigned to travel and write. His first poetry collection was published in 1992 in Casablanca under the title Eyes While it’s Still Light. His last collection Back to Writing in Pencil was published in 2013 and contains poems he wrote between 2005 and 2012.
One of Al-Harthy’s special publications is his travel book Eye and Wing in which he writes about his travels through Thailand, Vietnam, Andalusia and the Rub’ al-Khali desert in Arabia. The book was awarded the 2005 Ibn Battuta Award for geographical writing. His love of classical Arabic poetry resulted in 2010 in the publication of the collected works of the Omani poet Abu Muslim al-Bahlani. A travel book on Nepal, Tibet and the Himalayas is currently in preparation.
In his most recent collection, Back to Writing in Pencil, he writes in one of his poems: “I’ve renounced the computer to return to the simplicity of pencil,’ and in his poem ‘The Word-Ship Moors’ he gets his revenge on a word processor that doesn’t process text: “I thought about looking for a typewriter… but those machines have disappeared in this day and age…” The theme of aversion to computers returns in the poem ‘A Clever Keyboard in Sri Lanka’ in which the poet tells of his inability to work with a virtual keyboard.
It is interesting that Al-Harthy’s poems often begin with a quote from a classical Arabian poet or from foreign poets and writers. In the poem ‘Voiced and Voiceless’, he quotes from Franz Kafka’s diaries. Other poems begin with quotes from Alberto Hidalgo and Allen Ginsberg or with an extract from the poem ‘Fisherman’ by W.S. Merwin. The fisherman in Al-Harthy’s poem addresses the fisherman in Merwin’s: “If we drown, they won’t throw any wreaths in the sea…our wreaths await us in endless eternity.”
Eyes While it’s Still Light, Casablanca, 1992
Every Night Until the Morning, Keulen, 1994
Far from Zanzibar, Caïro, 1997
Eva’s Mosaic, Moscat, 2002
A Game That Doesn’t Get Boring, Keulen, 2005
Back to Writing in Pencil, 2013
Eye and Wing, 2004 (travel book)
The Workshop of the Past, Beiroet, 2013 (essays)
Studying Manuscripts, Beiroet, 2013 (novel)