Nouri al-Jarrah  [ Syria ]


Nouri al-Jarrah
© Rami Al-Asheq

Guest 2017, 2019.


The Boy

Beirut, 1982

Aligning with the Voice

London, 1988

Ode to a Voice

Köln, 1990

Death’s Childhood

Casablanca, 1992

A Black Glass

London, 1993

Poem and Poem in the Mirror

Beirut, 1995

The Ascent of April

Beirut, 1996

Hamlet’s Gardens

Beirut, 2003

The Road to Damascus and The Persian Garden

Beirut, 2004

The Day of Cain

Haifa/Beirut, 2013

Noah’s Despair

Beirut, 2014

Abel’s Elegies

Beirut, 2015

Four Elegies

Istanbul, 2016

A Boat to Lesbos

Dar al-Mutawassit

Mailand, 2016

Une Barque pour Lesbos

Les Edition Moires

Paris, 2016

[Ü: Aymen Hacen]

Le désespoir de Noé

Les Edition Moires

Paris, 2017

[Ü: Aymen Hacen]

Nouri al-Jarrah was born in 1956 in Damascus. He moved to Beirut in 1981, then to Cyprus and finally to London in 1986. He is one of the most influential contemporary poets of the Arabic-speaking world. He achieved fame with his first volume of poetry, »The Boy« (1982). Since then, 14 further publications have followed from publishing houses in Beirut, Cairo, Algeria, Haifa, Nicosia and Istanbul, many of which have been awarded prizes in various parts of the Arab world and been translated into a range of Asian and European languages. Nouri al-Jarrah’s poems present his vision of poetry and life, to which he has lent a unique voice over the years. His verse leans on a variety of cultural sources, with a particular way of focusing on mythology, folktales, and legends while reflecting on metaphysical considerations and deep, existential questions. One of his most recent poems, »A Boat to Lesbos«, a requiem to the huge exodus from Syria, has been met with exceptional acclaim. With references to the teachings of the poet Ibn Arabi and drawing on the legacy of mythology in the Mediterranean, al-Jarrah’s piece centers on the experiences of the refugees on those doomed boats to Lesbos. Excerpts of the poem have been translated into English and published in the magazine »Banipal«, among others. The poems written between 2013 and 2017 in the volume »Le désespoir de Noé« (2017) also focus on the tragedy of the Syrian people, which al-Jarrah makes tangible through figures from the Bible and the Koran.

Al-Jarrah has founded several literary magazines, including »Al-Naqid« (1988–1992), »Al-Katiba« (1993–1995), »Al-Rihla« (as of 1995), and » Al-Jadeed« (as of 2015). Due to the restrictions on freedom of the press in Arab countries, they are published in London, but have still had a great deal of influence on Arabic literature. His opinion pieces and editorials in these and other Arabic magazines and newspapers have inspired lively debate among prominent Arabic writers on the topic of new approaches in poetry and prose. In 2015, a work based on al-Jarrah’s texts called »Stele.Blut« (Music: Hannes Kerschbaumer) premiered at the Sprachsalz festival in Tirol.

Al-Jarrah is head of the Center for Arabic Geographical Literature-Exploration Prospects based in Abu Dhabi and London. The center publishes historically significant Arabic travel literature, such as a journal belonging to the Arabic scholar Taufik al Idl, who traveled to Germany at the end of the 19th century. Nouri al-Jarrah lives in London and the United Arab Emirates.