Adonis: The Renaissance is a misnomer, and there is no Arab creativity without estrangement

On his first visit to Saudi Arabia, as part of the celebration of the 2023 Arab Poetry Year

The Syrian poet Adonis said that the time period that he called the Renaissance is a misnomer, and that it was, in the end, nothing but a restoration of an old Arab literary experience, or a borrowing from a new Ottomanism, which began since the Arabs became acquainted with the West, and they turned into mere markets and consumers.

Adonis concluded that Arab creativity, both poetically and intellectually, would not be achieved without a complete break with restoration and metaphor, considering poetry and art as opening new horizons in the relations between words and things, and between man and the world, as a deepening of this break, and as a prelude to moving towards another Arab creative age.

During his “Poetry and Life” lecture, which is his first in Saudi Arabia, which he is visiting on the sidelines of the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s celebration of the 2023 Arab Poetry Year, Adonis thanked the Ministry of Culture and the Academy of Arab Poetry for the invitation, and said: “It allowed me to be among you, you who look at me.” Your country is like a work of art, and you turn it into poems, statues, music, urbanization, and everything that makes life more beautiful. It is a moment of brotherhood between all of us on more than one level and horizon.

Adonis’s lecture was attended by a large audience of Saudi and Arab intellectuals (Arab Poetry Academy on Twitter).

During the lecture held (Wednesday) in the city of Riyadh, and in the midst of a large presence of Saudi and Arab intellectuals, Adonis recounted his early moments in life and poetry, and said that his natural and literary childhood was near a place where the alphabet was invented, in a mud house, reminiscent of the first human clay. And at the age of sixteen, he knew the school, after his father was his only school, in which he learned the Qur’an and memorized most of it, and learned calligraphy and poetry with him, and lived with the poets of the Arabian Peninsula, in the collections and places, in the Hijaz, Taif, Najd, Medina, and Mecca .

He pointed out that the land on which he was born is the land of poetry and language, the Arabian Peninsula, which he counted among the great homelands of the unique great poetry in the whole world. And he added: «Within this horizon, I say that my relationship with this good land, the Arabian Peninsula, is not limited by language or poetry, but is a relationship of life at the level of being, and it is filled, along with its sisters in the region, with major cultural, human and knowledge secrets that have not yet been discovered, and ( Al-Ula region) in the heart of this vertical continent.

Adonis said that the steps taken by some Arab creators in the course of their lives, since what was mistakenly called the Renaissance, through the fifties of the past twentieth century and what followed, are essential steps in opening a new horizon in Arabic poetic writing and establishing new ways of expression. However, the culture of masculinity And the prevailing culture, with its traditions, trenches, and horizons, continued to be followed, proven, and repeated, indicating that what was called the Renaissance era was nothing but restoration on the one hand, and borrowing on the other.

Adonis said that the prevailing traditional cultural structure unites the right and the left in practice, and this is a phenomenon that specialists are supposed to study and analyze carefully. He added: «In terms of restoration, Shawqi, who was called the Prince of Poets, if he is placed on the same table with the poets who restored them, Al-Buhtri, Abi Tammam, Al-Mutanabbi and Al-Sharif Al-Radi are represented, but not exclusively, Shawqi’s site will be nothing, because he did not add anything new at any level, but he restored The wording is in a high language, and if you compare, then I will be on the side of Salah Jahin, not Shawqi.

And he continued: “From the left, Muhammad Mahdi Al-Jawahiri, who is called the greatest poet of the Arabs, if we discuss his poetic language, we will see that Al-Jawahiri restored the ancient Arabic rhetoric, the eloquence of praise and satire, and clothed it in a leftist form, and when comparing him with the poet Muzaffar Al-Nawab, I will be on the side of the deputies.”

Regarding metaphor, Adonis said: “You all know that the Arabs, since they became acquainted with the West, left the old Ottoman Empire and entered a new Ottoman Empire, and the West succeeded in producing the Arabs culturally in its machine.” Arabs to mere markets and consumers.

Adonis stressed that creativity today in the Arab world will not be achieved poetically and intellectually except by a complete break with restoration and metaphor, considering poetry and art as creativity that opens new horizons in the relations between words and things, and between man and the world, in order to deepen this break and lead it towards the establishment of another Arab creative era, in which it will be The body is indebted to poetry, its books, its music, its methods of expression and its dimensions, calling on the creative poet, instead of wandering in the heads of poets and thinkers and reading what they think and write about, to travel in the bodies of others, revealing, reading and narrating.