Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said Asbar)

Arab poet, translator, editor, and theorist Ali Ahmad Said Asbar was the eldest of six children born to a family of farmers in Syria’s Al-Qassabain village. Though they could not afford the cost of formal education, Adonis’s father taught his son to read and helped him memorise poems while he worked on the family farm. At fourteen, Adonis recited a poem to the president of Syria during his visit to a neighbouring town, after which the president offered to grant the boy’s request to attend school. With the president’s support, Adonis enrolled in a French high school and then at Damascus University, where he earned a ba in philosophy.
In his late teens, he began writing under the name Adonis, after the Greek god of fertility. After a year in prison as a result of his political activity, Adonis moved to Beirut, where he found a rich community of expatriate writers and artists. There he co-founded and edited two progressive literary journals, Sh’ir and Mawaqif and earned a PhD at St. Joseph University in
Beirut.
Adonis has won the first ever International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Award; the Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression’s Bjørnson Prize; the Highest Award of the International Poem Biennial in Brussels; and the Syria-Lebanon Best Poet Award. In 1983 he was elected into the Stéphané Mallarmé Academy in Paris. He has taught at the Sorbonne, Damascus University and the Lebanese University.
Adonis lives in Paris.

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