The Importance and Beauty of Modern Arabic Poetry


arabic alphabet Waed Athamneh, assistant professor of Arabic studies at Connecticut College, has published a new book titled Modern Arabic Poetry: Revolution and Conflict. In this volume, Athamneh addresses enduring questions raised from the 1950s to the present as she investigates the impact of past and contemporary Middle Eastern politics on its poetry.

Inspiration from the Great MENA Poets

Focusing on the works of three prominent poetsarabic poetry , Iraqi ʿAbd al-Wahhāb al-Bayātī (1926–1999), Egyptian Aḥmad ʿAbd al-Muʿṭī Ḥijāzī (b. 1935), and Palestinian Maḥmūd Darwīsh (1941–2008), Athamneh argues that political changes in the modern Arab world—including the 1967 war and the fall of Nasserism, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and, in Ḥijāzī's case, the 2011 Arab Uprising and its aftermath—inspired transitions and new directions in these poets' works.

Enhanced by Athamneh's original translations of a number of the Arabic texts discussed, as well as translations published previously, Modern Arabic Poetry brings these poets fully into the purview of contemporary literary, political, and critical discourse.

It argues that their individual responses to political changes proceed in three distinct directions: the metapoetic, in which the poet disengages from the poetry of political commitment to find inspiration in artistic (self-)exploration; the recommitted, in which new political revolutions inspire the poet to resume writing and publishing poetry; and the humanist, in which the poet comes to terms of coexistence with permanent or unresolved conflict.


Praise for Modern Arabic Poetry 

"Modern Arabic poetry is often burdened unjustly with cliches about political commitment iltizām. Athamneh offers a bold analysis of how three major poets inhabit the almost mythic role of 'poet of the people' by reconfiguring and finessing iltizāmwith their signature approaches.

The book examines how these poets delicately deploy their own poetic voices and how they inspire (and are inspired by) their publics to face postcolonial injustices. It's a timely intervention and a 'must read' for scholars and students of Arabic and comparative literature, as well as Middle Eastern studies." —Samer Mahdy Ali, University of Michigan

Never Tell An Arab Not to Write

The Library of Congress will host a lecture, "Never Tell An Arab Poet Not To Write," and book launch for Modern Arabic Poetry on May 4, 2017, 12:00 to 1:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public.

Address: Library of Congress Jefferson Building 10 First Street, S.E. Washington DC 20540

Modern Arabic Poetry is available in hardback and numerous digital editions from the University of Notre Dame Press. For more information, or to receive a review copy, contact: Kathryn Pitts, Marketing Manager, e:, p: 574.631.3267.