Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said in Al Qassabin)

(1930- )

Adonis was born in al Qassabin near the city of Latakia,
Syria. He is a poet, literary critic, translator, and editor.

He received a traditional Islamic education from his father, who was farmer and imam. In 1944 he entered the French Lycée at Tartus. He graduated in 1950, and in the same year he published his first collection of verse, Dalila. He continued his studies in law and philosophy at the Syrian University in
Damascus. He served two years in the army but spent part of that time in jail for his political views. In 1956 he and his wife left Syria for Lebanon.

In Lebanon he and the Lebanese poet Yusuf Al-Khal founded a journal called “Shi"ir”, which introduced modernistic ideas into Arabic poetry. Its first issue was banned in several Arab countries. Rumors that Shi"r was infiltrated by Syrian nationalist elements led to its temporary suspension.

In 1964, Adonis edited an anthology of Arabic poetry, Diwan al shi’r al arabi. In 1968, he published Mawakif, a poetry journal which, like Shi’ir, promoted a new Arabic literary convention. Experimentation and language remained his primary interests in poetry, even though he did explore the idea of exile and political issues.

In 1970, Adonis was appointed professor of Arabic literature at the Lebanese University. Three years later he earned a doctoral degree from the St Joseph University in Beirut. The subject of his thesis was "Permanence and Change in Arabic Thought and Literature."

In 1980-81, he was a visiting lecturer at the university Censier Paris III. He has taught at the Collège de France, Georgetown University, and the University of Geneva.

He left the Lebanese University and moved to Paris in 1986. In 2001, Adonis was awarded the Goethe Medal of the Goethe-Gesellschaft. His name has often been mentioned among Nobel Prize candidates.

Works by Adonis include:

Dalila, 1950
Qalat alard, 1952
Qasaid ula, 1957
Idha qulta ya Suriyya, 1958
Awraq fi al-rih, 1958
Aghani Mihyar al-Dimashqi, 1961
ed.: Diwan al-shi"r al-"arabi, 1964-68
Waqt bayn al-ramad wa al-ward, 1970
Qabr min ajl New York, 1971
Muqaddimah li-al-sh"r al-"Arabi, 1971
The Blood of Adonis, 1971 (trans. by S. Hazo)
Zaman al Shi"r, 1972
Al-Thabit wa "l-mutahawwil, 1974
Mufrad fi sighat al-jam, 1975
Mirrors, 1976
Fatihah li-nihayat al-qarn, 1980
Kitab al-qasa"id al-khams, 1980
Transformations of the Lover, 1983
Victims of a Map, 1984 (trans. by A. al-Udhari)
Shahwah tataqaddam di khara"it al-maddah, 1987
Ihtifa" bi-al-ashya" al-wadihah al-ghamidah, 1988
Kalam al-bayidat, 1989
Siyasat al-shir, 1992
Al-Nizam wa-al-kalam, 1993
Ha anta, ayyuha alwaqt, 1993
Abjadiyyah thaniyyah, 1994
If Only the Sea Could Sleep (trans. by Susan Einbinder); The Pages of Day and Night, 1994 (trans. by Samuel Hazo)
Amitié, temps et lumière, 2002 (with Dimitri T. Analis)