Ali Ahmad Saïd Esber (Adonis)

Poet and Writer

Curriculum Vitae

Ali Ahmad Saïd Esber
Pen name: ADONIS
Born in Qassabin, Syria - 1930
He lived and had his cultural activity in Beirut, Lebanon, mainly from 1956 to 1986
Nationality: Lebanese and French
Resides in France since 1986


Schooling in Tartous and Lattaquié, Syria
B.A. at Damascus University, Syria, 1951-1954
Ph.D. at University of St Joseph, Beirut, 1970-1973

Teaching Experience

1971 – 1985: Lebanese University: Professor of Arabic Literature.
1971 – 1985: University of St Joseph, Beirut: Ph.D. Advisor
1980 – 1981: Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle (Censier-Paris III): Visiting professor of Arabic Literature.
1983: Collège de France, Paris: Invited to lecture on Modernity.
1985: Georgetown University: Invited to lecture on Modernity in Arab Culture.

Université de Genève / Associate professor in charge of a seminar on Arab Poetry.

Fellowship by Trans-regional Institute, Center of International Studies at Prinston University.

1998 – 1999: Fellowship – Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin.
2000 – 2001: Fellowship – Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin.

Cultural Activities

Co-founded and co-edited the literary review Shi’r.
1964: Founded the literary review Afâq.
1967: Founding member of the Lebanese Writer’s Union.

Founded the literary review Mawâqif of which he was editor in chief until 1995.

Other Activities

UNESCO, Paris: Permanent Representative of the Arab league.

Honors and Awards

1961: Prix de la revue Shi`r
1968: Prix des Amis du Livre, Beirut.
1971: Syria-Lebanon Award of the International Poetry Forum, Pittsburg.
1974: National Prize of Poetry, Beirut.
1983: Member of the Académie Stéphane Mallarmé.
1983: Appointed “Officier des Arts et des Lettres” by the Ministry of Culture, Paris.
1984: Exhibit at the “Maison de la Poésie”, Paris, and four readings. Followed by talks and comments by other poets and philosophers.
1984: Médaille Picasso, Accorded by UNESCO
1986: Guest of Honor, Pen Club Week, New York.
1986: Grand Prix des Biennales Internationales de la Poesie de Liège, Brussels
1990: Member of Académie Universelle des Cultures, Paris.
1991: Prix Jean-Marlieu-Etranger, Marseille.
1993: Feronia-Cita di Fiamo Prime, Rome.
1994: Nazim Hikmet Prize, Istanbul.
1995: Prix Méditerranée-Etranger, Paris.
1995: Prize of Lebanese Cultural Forum in France.
1997: Poetry Prize of Struga, Macedonia.
1999: Poetry Prize of Nonino, Italy.
2000: Prix Alain Bosquet, Paris.
2001: Prix Goethe. Germany
2004: Grade of Docteur Honoris Causa, from the Université de Genève.
2006: Medal of the Italian Cabinet. Awarded by the International Scientific Committee of the Manzu Centre.
2006: Prize of “ Pio Manzu – Centro Internazionale Recherche. “
2007: Grade of Docteur Honoris Causa, from the American University of Beirut.
2007: The Bjornson Prize – Norway
2008: Premio Grinzane Cavour per la Lettura. Italy.
2008: Prize Max Jacob for Poetry - France
2008: Prize Giovanni Pascoli – San Mauro - Italy


1- Poetry

1957: Qasâ’id Ûla, Beirut.
1958: Awrâk Fî l-Rîh, Beirut.
1961: Aghâni Mihiâr al-Dimashqî, Beirut.
1965: Kitâb al-Tahawwulât wal-Hijra fî Aqâlîm al-Nahâr wal-Layl, Beirut.
1968: Al-Masrah wal-Marâya, Beirut.
1970: Waqt Bayna l-Ramâd wal-Ward
1977: Mufrad bi-Sighat al-Jam’, Beirut.
1980: Kitâb al-Qasâ’id al-Khams, Beirut.
1985: Kitâb al-Hisâr, Beirut.
1987: Shahwa Tataqaddam fî Kharâ’it al-Mâdda, Casablanca.
1988: Ihtifâ’an bil-Ashyâ’ al-Wadihat al-Ghâmida, Beirut.
1994: Abjadiya Thânia, Casablanca.
1995: Al-Kitâb, vol. 1, Beirut.
1998: Al-Kitâb, vol. 2, Beirut
1998: Fahras li-A’mâl al-Rîh, Beirut.
2002: Al-Kitâb, vol. 3, Beirut.
2003: Awwal al-Jassad, Âkhir al-Bahr
2003: Tanabba’ Ayyuha’l ‘A’mâ.
2006: Tãriikh Yatamazzaq fii Jassad Imra`a
2007: Warraaq Yabii` Kutub al-Noujoum
2007: Ihda` Hamlet, Tanachchaq Junoun Ophelia.

2- Essays

1971: Muqaddima lil-Shi’r al-Arabî, Beirut.
1972: Zaman al-Shi’r, Beirut.
1974: AL-Thâbit wal-Mutahawwil, vol. 1, Beirut.
1977: AL-Thâbit wal-Mutahawwil, vol. 2, Beirut.
1978: AL-Thâbit wal-Mutahawwil, vol. 3, Beirut.
1980: Fâtiha li-Nihâyât al-Qarn, Beirut.
1985: Al-Shi’ryyat al-Arabyya, Beirut.
1985: Syasat al-Shi’r,Beirut.
1992: Al-Sûfiyya wal-Sureâliyya, London.
1993: Hâ Anta Ayyuha l-Waqt, Beirut.
1993: Al-Nizâm wal-Kalâm, Beirut.
1993: Al-Nass al-Qur’âni wa Âfâq al-Kitâba, Beirut.
2002: Mûsiqa al-Hût al-Azraq, Beirut.
2004: Al-Muheet al-Aswad, Beirut.
2008: Ra`s Al-Lughah, Jism Al-Sahra`, Beirut
2008: Al-Kitab Al-khitab Al-Hijab, Beirut

3- Anthologies

1963: Mukhtârât min Shi’r Yûsuf al-Khâl, Beirut.
1967: Mukhtârât min Shi’r al-Sayyâb, Beirut.
1964 – 1968: Diwân al-Shi’r al-‘Arabî, Beyrut. (3 Volumes).

4- Translations

From French into Arabic:

1972 – 75: Georges Schehadé, Théâtre Complet, 6 vol. , Beirut.
1972 – 75: Jean Racine, La Thébaïde, Phèdre, Beirut.
1976 – 78: Saint-John Perse, Eloges, La Gloire des Rois, Anabase, Exils, Neiges, Poèmes à l’étrangère, Amers, 2 vols. , Damascus.
1987: Yves Bonnefoye, Collected Poems, Damascus.
2002: Ovide, Métamorphosis, Abu Dhabi, Cultural Foundation.

From Arabic into French:

1988- Abu l-Alâ’ al-Ma’arrî, Rets d’éternité (excerpts from the Luzûmiyyât) in collaboration with Anne Wade Minkowski, ed . Fayard, Paris.
1998 - Khalil Gibran, Le Livre des Processions, in collaboration with Anne Wade Minkowski, éd. Arfuyen, Paris.

5- Translations of Adonis available in French:


1982: Le Livre de la Migration, éd. Luneau Ascot, translated by martine Faideau, préface by Salah Stétié.
1983 : Chants de Mihyar le Damascène, éd. Sindbad, translated by Anne Wade Minkowsky, préface by Eugène Guillevic. Reprinted in 1995, Sindbad-Actes Sud.
1984: Les Résonances Les Origines, translated by Chawki Abdelamir and Serge Sautreau, éd. Nulle Part.
1984: Ismaël, translated by Chawki Abdelamir and Serge Sautreau, éd. Nulle Part.
1986: Tombeau pour New York, Suivi de Prologue à l’Histoire des Rois des Ta’ifa et de Ceci Est Mon Nom, ed. Sindbad translated by Anne W. Minkowsky. Reprinted in 1999, by éd. Sindbad/Actes Sud.
1989: Cheminement du Désir Dans la Géographie de la Matière, éd. PAP, translated by A. W. Minkowski.
1990: Le Temps Les Villes, éd. Mercure de France, translated by Jacques Berque and A. W. Minkowski, in collaboration with the author.
1991: Célébrations, éd. La Différence, translated by A. W. M.
1991: Chronique des Branches, éd. la Différence, translated by A.W.M. préface by Jacques Lacarrière.
1991: Mémoire du Vent ( anthology), éd. Poésie/Gallimard, translated by C. Abdelamir, Claude Estéban, S. Sautreau, André Velter, A. W. M. and the author, préface by A. Velter. Reprinted in 1994, 97, 99, 2000, 03, 05.
1994: La Madâ’a,éd. PAP, Translated by A. W. M.
1994 : La Main de la Pierre Dessine le Lieu, éd. PAP, translated by A. W. M.
1994: Soleils Seconds, éd. Mercure de France, translated by Jacques Berque.
1995: Singuliers éd. Sindbad/Actes Sud, translated by Jacques Berque re-édited by éd . Gallimard 2002
1997: Au Sein d’un Alphabet Second, 2d. Origine, translated by A. W. M.
2003: Toucher La Lumière, éd. Imprimerie Nationale, présentation, Jean Yves Masson, translated by A. W. Minkowski.
2004: Commencement Du Corps Fin De L’Océan, éd. Mercure de France, translated by Vénus Khoury-Ghata.
2004: Alep, in collaboration with the artist photographer Carlos Freire, éd. Imprimerie Nationale, translated by Renée Herbouze,
2007: Le Livre I – Al Kitâb I, edit. du Seuil, Traduit par Houriyya Abdel-Wahed.
2008: Histoire qui se déchire sur le corps d’une femme. Ed. Mercure de France Traduit par Houriyya Abdel-Wahed.


1985: Introduction à la Poétique Arabe, éd; Shndbad, forword by Yves Bonnefoy, translated by Bassam Tahhan and A.W. M.
1993: La Prière et l’Epée (essays on arab culture), éd. Mercure de France, intoduction by A. W. M., édited by Jean-Yves Masson, translated by Layla Khatîb and A. W. M.
2001: Amitié, Temps et Lumière, co-author Dimitri Analis, éd. Obsidiane.
2004: Identité Inachevée, in collaboration with Chantal Chawwaf,éd. du Rocher.
2006: Conversation avec Adonis, mon père, co-author Ninar Esber éd. Seuil.

6- A great number of translations have been published in other languages, including English, Italian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Norvegian, Persian, Spanish, Swedish, polish, Macedonian, Turkish, Portuguese, Chinese, and Indonesian.

Available in English:

1990: An Introduction to Arab Poetics, (essay) Saqi Books, London, translated By Catherine Cobham.
1992: Atif Y. Faddul, The Poetics of T. S. Eliot and Adonis, a comparative study, Alhamra Publishers.
1994: The Pages of Day and Night, The Marlboro Press, Marlboro Vermont, translated by Samuel Hazo.
2003: If Only the Sea Could Sleep, éd. Green Integer 77, translated by Kamal Bullata, Susan Einbinder and Mirène Ghossein.
2004: A Time Between Ashes and Roses, Poems, With a forward of Nasser Rabbat, ed. Syracuse University Press, translation, critical Arabic edition by Shawkat M. Toorawa.
2005: Sufism and Surrealism, (essay) edit. by Saqi Books, translated by Judith Cumberbatch.
2008: Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs. Translated by Adnan Haydar and Michael Beard - USA

7- Critical studies and appreciations in French:

1991: N° 16 of the review “Détours d’Ecriture”, Paris.
1991: N° 96 of the review “Sud”, Marseille.
1995: N° 8 of the review “L’Oeil du Boeuf”, Paris.
1996: May issue of the review “Esprit”, Paris.
1998: N° 2 of the review “Autre Sud” Marseille.
1998: N° 28 of the review “Pleine Marge”, Paris.
2000: Michel Camus, Adonis le Visionnaire, éd. Du Rocher.

Some 19 Arabic books and a great number of Academic dissertations on Adonis poetry are available.


2000: Berlin - Institute for Advanced Studies
2000: Paris - L`Institut du Monde Arabe
2003: Paris - Area Gallery
2007: Amman -Shuman`s Gallery (co-exhibition With Haydar)
2008: Damascus - Atassy Gallery, exh. For 4 Poets-Painters (with works of Fateh Mudarress, Etel Adnan, Samir Sayegh)
2008: Paris - Le Louvre des Antiquaires: Calligraphies d`Orient. (Collectif)