Ali Ahmad Said (Adonis), Foto: © A&N Esber
Ali Ahmad Said (Adonis), Foto: © A&N Esber

Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said Esber)

Syrian-Lebanese poet and essayist

*January 1, 1930 in Qassabin

Every two years since 1991, the city of Osnabrück has awarded the Peace Prize named after the world-famous writer Erich Maria Remarque, who was born in Osnabrück. In 2016, the award will be presented for the 13th time.

The Erich Maria Remarque Peace Prize, endowed with 25,000 euros, will be awarded to Syrian-Lebanese poet and essayist Ali Ahmad Said, who publishes under his pen name Adonis, in honor of his advocacy for the separation of religion and state, equal rights for women in the Arab world, and an enlightened Arab society. Adonis is also considered the most important Arab poet of the present day.

The prize is awarded in view of the current developments in the Middle East. In the spirit of Remarque, the prize is intended to encourage people to believe in the future of Arabia despite their despair over the current situation.

The members of the jury emphasize that Adonis is vehemently committed to democratic decision-making. From a literary perspective, he offers access to an understanding of different cultural backgrounds; reading his writings also illustrates the importance of poetry in the Arab world. Adonis is thus an important mediator between Arab and Western culture.

"The poet must always stand beyond the usual, and it is his duty to support the winds of freedom and equality that drive societies," Adonis wrote when he learned of the award of the Remarque Peace Prize. He is speaking in the spirit of Remarque, whose words "one can only sit down, and do one's little bit, so that progress is possible" characteristically describe Adonis' poetic work and Giusi Nicolini's personal commitment.

Adonis was born in 1930 as Ali Ahmad Said Esber in Qassabin (northern Syria) and studied philosophy in Damascus. In 1955 he was imprisoned for political activities. He then settled with his wife in Beirut, where he published the avant-garde literary magazine Shi'r (Poetry) under his pen name Adonis - which became one of the most important voices for the refounding of Arabic poetry. In 1960 he took Lebanese citizenship and graduated from the Université Saint-Joseph, where he was still teaching at the beginning of the Lebanese Civil War in 1975. In 1980 he emigrated to Paris, where he still lives today. Adonis is considered the most important Arab poet of the present day. He tries to revive the openness of classical Arabic poetry by breaking taboos and questioning religion. It is precisely through his critical essays that he repeatedly causes a stir in the Arab world.


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