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Adonis: Selected Poems (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) Hardcover – October 19, 2010

4.0 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“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
(Fady Joudah)

Selected as a finalist for the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize sponsored by the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry
(Griffin Poetry Prize Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry 2011-04-06)

Adonis was the winner of the 2011 Goethe Prize, given by the city of Frankfurt
(Goethe Prize Frankfurt 2011-05-01)

Khaled Mattawa was the winner of the 2010 Academy Fellowship, given by the Academy of American Poets
(Academy Fellowship Academy of American Poets 2010-01-01)

Khaled Mattawa was the winner of the 2011 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for Adonis: Selected Poems, given by PEN American Center
(PEN Award for Poetry in Translation PEN American Center 2011-06-01)

“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
(Marilyn Hacker 2010-07-20)

"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
(Kel Munger Sacramento News & Review 2010-11-24)

"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
(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
(M. Lynx Qualey Kenyon Review)

About the Author

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.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Margellos World Republic of Letters
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; First Edition edition (October 19, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300153066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300153064
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,553,418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I have been waiting for this book and was thrilled to see its release this year. Adonis is one of the all-time greats, and finally, we have a comprehensive volume of his work in English. Adonis worked with Khaled Mattawa for a long time (I heard eleven years) in bringing this volume together. The layout is beautiful, the poems are captivating, and we can finally read Adonis as he matures over the years.

Although not complete, this selection of poems is vast. Most major texts are represented, many very generously. I have only come across three poetry books by Adonis published in English, so for English readers, it doesn't get any better than this. Also, the translations are superb. I compared some lines of translation in this text with a previous publication that I have of Songs of Mihyar of Damascus. This one reads better. I don't read Arabic, and the Arabic version of the poems are not are provided (an asset as the book is a nice size to hold), so I can't pretend to compare it to the original.

One surprise is that "A Grave For New York" is not included. I'm not sure why. This is my favorite of all of Adonis' poems. It could be because it has been translated in several other collections. Or it could be because of personal preference. "A Grave For New York" can be found in A Time Between Ashes and Roses, The Pages of Day and Night, and Modern Arabic Poetry (Salma Khadra Jayyusi); all are excellent volumes. On the flip side, there are plenty of new gems that can't be found elsewhere spanning 1957-2008. And unlike many poets, his early poems do not disappoint.

If you haven't read Adonis, you are missing out, and this would be a wonderful place to start. His poems are surreal, powerful, lyrical, natural, mythic, experimental and a mixture of long and short.
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Format: Hardcover
This is the most complete English collection of the poems of the Arabic language poet Adonis. Adonis is considered the dean of Arab poets in the Western world, the one who has made the greatest contribution to Arab poetry as a whole. He is considered an innovator who while knowing well traditional Arab forms pioneered in breaking the mold and moving Arabic Literature to greater freedom. His poetic credo sees poetry as a "leap outside of established concepts, a change in the order of things and in the way we look at them." He is a poet of love and sensual experience but also of mystical life. Ideologically he is known as a fierce secularist who believes the religious domination of Arab culture is to an extent to its detriment. Adonis whose poetry has not been widely known, or until this present translation been extensively translated into English is considered one of the senior poets on the global poetic scene. He has lived in exile for many years mostly in Paris. His work has been strongly influenced by that of Whitman and Baudelaire but above all by the French surrealists. He also combines a deep interest in mystical Sufi thought and his work often reflects this. As I do not know Arabic I cannot possibly speak about the quality of the translation, but as I understand it the translator is considered a close associate and collabator of Adonis, who knows his work very well. Adonis though he has a background as a Syrian nationalist is not considered to be primarily a political poet. He has spoken when asked about the popularity of his poetry of the need for Poetry to be difficult to challenge its reader, and lead the reader to be a co- creator of it.He has been defined as a poet of Exile and has said about this "Every artist is an exile within his own language," he said.Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I suppose something is always lost during translation. But this is Adonis, and there are things in his poetry that should not be that lost. Adonis ill give a five stars. The translator, about one star. The sum is unfortunately three.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This set of collected works tells the story of a man's life over many decades, though his poems. It is one of the greatest books of poetry I've ever read, out of many hundreds.
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