Goethe Prize

The Syrian poet Adonis is the first Arab writer to win Germany's prestigious €50,000 Goethe prize.

When he was presented with the award by the city of Frankfurt on Goethe's birthday, 28 August, the jury called him "the most important Arab poet of our time", and lauded his "eminent literary talent, his cosmopolitanism and his contribution to world literature".

The Goethe prize is only given every three years for work that reflects the spirit of the German master, and has been won by Sigmund Freud and Herman Hesse.

Adonis is his pen name. He was born in Syria, as Ali Ahmad Said Esber and in his late teens he was imprisoned for political activities. He moved to Beirut in 1956 and now lives in Paris. He is known for his experimental writing, moving away from the formal structures of traditional Arabic poetry.He has written over twenty books in Arabic. 

"I wanted to draw on Arab tradition and mythology without being tied to it, I wanted to break the linearity of poetic text – to mess with it, if you will. The poem is meant to be a network rather than a single rope of thought."

Adonis is expected by some to win this year's Nobel prize for literature. However, Adonis is undecided about the Arab revolutions and the events in Syria. His German translator stated that it's the wrong time for the Goethe Prize winner Adonis to be criticizing the protests in his homeland.

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