Another Legend From my Country


Adonis ©Al Akhbar

Ali Ahmad Said Esber, known by his pen name, Adonis, is a Syrian poet, essayist, theorist and translator.  Adonis was born to a poor family in the village of Al Qassabin near the coastal city of Lattakia. In his early times, Adonis’s family was unable to afford his elementary school’s tuition costs, and as a result, a nearby mosque was his only resource to learn Arabic. However, when Adonis was only a 14-year-old boy he was lucky enough to meet and recite a poem before the first president of the Syrian Republic, Shukri Al-Quwaitli. The president admired the young boy’s persistence and beautiful recital and offered Adonis a full governmental scholarship to the French school in Tartus.

yale books blog
Adonis, 2012 ©Yale Books Blog

Adonis attended numerous universities and finally earned his doctoral degree in Arabic literature from the Saint Joseph University in Lebanon. Immediately after his graduation, Adonis returned to his country, Syria and became an active member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, which eventually led to his imprisonment for two years. After his tragic time at prison, Adonis decided to give his homeland another chance and started working as an editor for the Al-Thawra magazine. However, he was confronted by pro-government who constantly clashed with his agenda which eventually led him to flee the country.

Throughout the years, Adonis was considered a pioneer of the Arabic modernism movement. He chose to break the ancient rules of Arab poetry and introduced new rhythms and structures. Adonis is the author of numerous poem collections. Today, Adonis is a 87-year-old legend and has been living in Paris, France, since 1975.

To learn more about Adonis and his poetry, please visit the following website:

-Chougher Maria Doughramajian


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