A Nobel Prize nominated poet in Holstebro
Adonis, the Syrian poet, who is currently regarded as one of the world's greatest living poets, will be this month's poet at our regular Poetry on a Thursday event.
It is a truly extraordinary accomplishment by the organisers, whom together with the translator Anna Stigsgaard, managed to convince the Nobel Prize nominated Syrian poet Adonis (pseudonym for Ali Esber) to come to Holstebro and read his poems.
"No East, No West: Only a single person in one single world." (Adonis)
Adonis is considered to be the greatest living poet writing in the Arabic language. He was born in a small village in western Syria in 1930. Until he was 12, he did not have the opportunity to go to school on a daily basis. Sometimes he walked barefooted to the nearest mosque school where a teacher taught him how to read and write. Before his twelfth year, he had never seen a car or listened to a radio nor did he know about electricity.
When Ali Esber was 13 years old, Syria's first president visited the neighboring town. Ali convinced the mayor of this village to help him pave the way through the crowd to the president, so that he could read him a poem. The president was so impressed that he asked the young man if there was anything he wanted? "Yes," answered Ali, "I would like to go to a real school ..." And so it happened!
After graduation, Ali studied philosophy and Arabic literature at the university, first in Damascus in Syria, later in Beirut in Lebanon. At the same time he changed his name from Ali to Adonis, began to publish his poetry under this pseudonym and also created a literary magazine. His work was greatly appreciated but also provoked powerful counter-reactions, especially in national, religious and conservative circles. Adonis tried to establish a new approach to the language and poetry. He was imprisoned for his views, and his literary works were threatened to be burnt. In 1956 he felt so threatened that he decided to leave the country and moved to Lebanon and later, in 1975, to Paris.
In addition to his highly acclaimed poetry, which continuosly rejuvinate as they are founded in an awareness of tradition, modernity and something deeply personal, Adonis has, with his wealth of literary knowledge, also published numerous ground breaking antologies of Arabic literature, essays and literary critiques and has translated materials from French to Arabic and vice versa. Besides Nobel Prize nominations, Adonis has received a number of prestigious international prizes, for example the Goethe Prize and the PENN / Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.
In Holstebro, Adonis will read his poems in Arabic. A Danish translation of the poems will then be read by others.