The Weekend Poem: 'West And East' By Adonis

The Weekend Poem: 'West And East' By Adonis

This week we've picked a poem by the man known as the greatest living poet of the Arab world - Ali Ahmad Said Asbar, better known by his pen name Adonis.

Born in 1930, the Syrian adopted his pseudonym when he was 19, taking it from Greek god of fertility.

He then set about fearlessness transforming Arabic verse, helping to usher in a new era of modernist prose poetry.

In 2007 he won the Bjørnson Prize and in 2011 he was awarded the Goethe Prize.

West And East

Everything stretches in history's tunnel.

Everything decorated is mined,

carrying its oily, poisoned child

sung to in a poisonous trade.

It was East, like a child asking,


and West was his flawless elder.

I turn this map around

for the world is all burned up:

East and West, a heap

of ash gathered

in the self-same grave.

Poem extracted from Adonis: selected poems, translated by Khaled Mattawa, published by Yale University Press (2010).

A series of literary talks and the first solo exhibition of Adonis' artwork in the UK this weekend. A Tribute to Adonis runs at the Mosaic Rooms in Kensington from 3 February - 30 March 2012. . The first event, an opening evening with Adonis and his translator, Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa, takes place at the Mosaic Rooms at 7pm this evening, Friday 3 February. For further information visit:


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