Arabic Language Blog

Nizar Qabbani Posted by on Mar 11, 2009 in Culture

Nizar Qabbani (نزار قباني)is a famous Arab poet, who is very well known for his romantic and feminist poetry. He was born in Damascus on 21 March 1923. Nizar was born to a middle class family, and his father owned a sweets shop. He liked arts, particularly drawing and music in his childhood, but later on he focused on poetry. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at Damascus University n 1942. After his graduation, he worked as a diplomat in various countries, including Lebanon, Egypt, Turkey, Spain, the UK, among others. During his work at the Syrian Foreign Ministry, he published many collections of poems, critical studies, etc. In 1966, he decided to quit his diplomatic work and to dedicate all his time to writing; he also established a publishing house in Beirut.

Nizar enjoyed a very happy childhood in a big warm family. However, at the age of 15, he was traumatized when his elder sister committed suicide, to avoid being forced to marry a man whom she did not love. This incident affected him deeply, and he started to write about feminism and women’s rights. Nizar married twice. His first wife was his Syrian cousin, and he had a son and a daughter by her. His son died at the age of 17, due to a heart condition, and his death was another trauma in Nizar’s life. His second wife was Iraqi, and her name was Balqis. They had two children together. His second wife was killed in a bombing of the Iraqi embassy in Beirut. Her death depressed him deeply, and he spent most of his life in Europe after her death.

Qabbani wrote 35 books of poetry between 1944 and 1991. Nizar is very famous for his romantic poetry, yet his nationalist poetry has been very important and influential as well, especillay poems that criticized Arab societies and that demanded change, e.g. “bread, cannabisand moon” (خبز وحشيش وقمر) published in 1956.

The following link shows a clip from a soap on his life, and recites one of his most famous poems “I Admit” (أشهد).

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