Born in Syria in 1930, Adonis is one of the most celebrated poets of the Arabic-speaking world. His poems have earned international acclaim, and his influence on Arabic literature has been likened to that of T. S. Eliot’s on English-language verse. This volume serves as the first comprehensive survey of Adonis’s work, allowing English readers to admire the arc of a remarkable literary career through the labors of the poet’s own handpicked translator, Khaled Mattawa.
Experimental in form and prophetic in tone, Adonis’s poetry sings exultantly of both the sweet promise of eros and the lingering problems of the self. Steeped in the anguish of exile and the uncertainty of existence, Adonis demonstrates the poet’s profound affection for Arabic and European lyrical traditions even as his poems work to destabilize those very aesthetic and moral sensibilities. This collection positions the work of Adonis within the pantheon of the great poets of exile, including César Vallejo, Joseph Brodsky, and Paul Celan, providing for English readers the most complete vision yet of the work of the man whom the cultural critic Edward Said called “today’s most daring and provocative Arab poet.”
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Adonis (born Ali Ahmad Said Esber) is an award-winning Syrian poet and essayist who led the modernist movement in Arabic poetry in the second half of the twentieth century. He has written more than twenty books in his native Arabic, including the pioneering work An Introduction to Arab Poetics. He lives in Paris. Khaled Mattawa is assistant professor of language and literature at the University of Michigan and the author of the poetry volumes Ismaila Eclipse and Zodiac of Echoes.Review:
"Poetry for [Adonis] is not merely a genre or an art form but a way of thinking, something almost like mystical revelation."—Charles McGrath, New York Times
"Poems of remarkable intellectual and emotional power."—Lawrence Joseph, Commonweal
"This new selection and translation . . . is certainly needed. . . . [Adonis's] 'Concerto for 11th September/2001 B.C.' . . . is nothing short of brilliant."—Kel Munger, Sacramento News & Review
"Adonis is one of the great luminaries in contemporary world poetry, and with this impressive and entrancing volume of selected poems in English, superbly translated by Khaled Mattawa, his pool of admirers here in America is bound to increase."—Spencer Dew, Rain Taxi Review of Books
"Until [now], no single work in English gave an idea of the poet’s range. Adonis: Selected Poems is thus a landmark: the collection matters not just because of its internal beauty, but because it provides a window on the career of one of Arabic literature’s transformational poets."— M. Lynx Qualey, Kenyon Review
"Provocative, emotionally wrought, and deeply human."—Keith Rice, Signature
"There is no doubt this selection will prove to be the standard by which all translations, readings, and studies of Adonis’s poetry in English will be judged. The sweeping canopy of his life’s achievement is astonishing in Khaled Mattawa’s vision. Mattawa’s lyrical rendition of Adonis’s intensely musical Arabic is unparalleled by any available translation, old or recent, of Adonis’s work in English."—Fady Joudah, translator of If I Were Another: Poems by Mahmoud Darwish
"Adonis, born Ali Ahmad Said Esber in the Alaouite village of Qassabin in western Syria in 1930, is recognized as one of the most important poets and theorists of literature in the Arab world, and one of the most important contemporary poets and poetic thinkers in any language or context. His influence on Arabic poetry can be compared with that of Pound or Eliot on poetry in English, combined, however, with a radical and secular critique of his society. His poetry is widely known and available in Europe, in many languages and multiple translations. Khaled Mattawa , one of the best and most audacious younger American poets, also a brilliant, knowledgeable translator, has worked for two decades, latterly with the collaboration of Adonis, on a collection that will represent his scope, his thought , his linguistic daring and innovation to Anglophone readers. This magisterial anthology, covering more than fifty years of work, marked with the poet’s 'epic scope and lyrical precision,' will indelibly mark his presence alongside world poets like Milosz, Akhmatova, Darwish, Neruda, Amichai and Bonnefoy."—Marilyn Hacker
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