Nizar Qabbani: The Poet of Love, Revolution, and Arab Identity

OV Digital Desk

Image Courtesy: Google Doodle

Nizar Qabbani (21 March 1923 – 30 April 1998) was a Syrian diplomat, poet, and writer. He is considered to be Syria’s National Poet.

Life and Career

He was born on 21 March 1923, in Damascus, Syria. He is widely considered as one of the most influential poets of the 20th century in the Arabic language. He is known for his romantic and political poetry that reflected the realities of the Arab world, especially his critiques of Arab society’s conservatism and oppressive traditions. Nizar Qabbani was born to a middle-class family in Damascus. His father was a wealthy businessman, and his mother was a homemaker. He was raised in a conservative Muslim family that valued education and culture. Nizar Qabbani received his primary and secondary education in Damascus, and later he went to Cairo, Egypt, to study Law and Literature at Cairo University.

In 1945, Nizar Qabbani began his diplomatic career, working as an attaché at the Syrian embassy in Cairo, Egypt. Later, he held diplomatic posts in several other countries, including Turkey, Lebanon, and the United Kingdom. Despite his busy diplomatic career, he continued to write poetry and published his first collection of poems, “The Brunette Told Me,” in 1948.

Qabbani’s poetry was controversial because of its frank treatment of sexuality and its critique of social norms and religious traditions. His poems often celebrated the beauty of women and love, but they also condemned the patriarchy and advocated for women’s rights. He was also a vocal critic of Arab governments and their policies, particularly towards Israel and the Palestinians.

In 1956, Qabbani resigned from his diplomatic career to devote himself entirely to writing. He moved to Beirut, Lebanon, where he published several collections of poetry that received critical acclaim. He also founded the cultural magazine, “Shi’r” (Poetry), which played a significant role in shaping Arabic poetry in the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to his poetry, Nizar Qabbani also wrote plays, essays, and children’s books. He also worked as a journalist and wrote articles on politics, culture, and social. At the age of 75, Nizar Qabbani died in London on 30 April 1998 of a heart attack.

Award and Legacy

Nizar Qabbani was the recipient of numerous awards and honors during his lifetime, including the Lenin Peace Prize, the highest honor awarded by the Soviet Union for peace activism. He was also awarded the Order of Merit by the Syrian government in recognition of his diplomatic service.

Qabbani’s legacy is significant in the world of Arabic poetry and literature. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential poets of the 20th century, and his work continues to be studied and celebrated by scholars and readers throughout the Arab world. His frank treatment of love and sexuality, his advocacy for women’s rights, and his critique of political and social norms were groundbreaking and controversial in their time, and continue to resonate with readers today.

In addition to his literary contributions, Qabbani’s founding of Dar al-Adab, one of the most important publishers of Arabic literature, also had a significant impact on the cultural and literary landscape of the Arab world. His commitment to promoting and preserving Arabic literature has inspired generations of writers and publishers. Overall, Nizar Qabbani’s contributions to Arabic poetry, literature, and culture have made a lasting impact, and his legacy continues to inspire and influence readers and writers today. On 21 March 2016, Google celebrated Nizar Qabbani’s 93rd birthday with a doodle.