introduction by Khaled Mattawa
The poems “War” and “Ruins” are from Adonis’s latest book, Warraq Yabi‘u Kuttub al-Nujum (Printer of the Planets’ Books). Largely composed of leisurely prose meditations interspersed with lyrical flashes, the book draws on the poet’s memories, especially his childhood in Qassabin, Syria. Adonis adroitly recaptures a child’s sense of wonder, as well as a child’s anguish and fears. The books seems also a tribute to the villagers of Qassabin, to a dignity that seems to emerge from a naturally philosophical outlook and a practical resourcefulness that compliment each other. Tender and poised, the poems never veer into nostalgia or sentimentality. Perhaps the counterweight to Qassabin are the poems from a sequence titled “Dictionary” including the two poems presented here, where the dictionary serves as a context for the poet’s memories and provides a premonition of future violence and destruction.
(photo by Shadi Enbashi | juxtapoza.com)