23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Amjad Nasser

Amjad Nasser was born in 1955 in al-Turra in Jordan. He had his first poems published in Jordanian newspapers at the age of twenty. From 1976 he worked for two years as a press and television journalist in Jordan before moving  to Beirut, where he helped to run  the cultural section of the weekly newspaper »Al Hadaf«. He later moved to Cyprus, where he worked as art director of the »Al-Ufq« magazine and, in 1987, to London , where he co-founded the journal »al-Quds al-Arabi«,  for which he currently edits the cultural section, in 1989.

The themes in Nasser’s prose poetry cover formative situations and personal experiences, but also the history of the Arab world and the alienation caused by the divide between the modern and the traditional. This can be seen in the text »Clay Tablets«, in which the first-person narrator in modern Amman comes across clay tablets whose »muddy smell« triggers flashes of Babylon’s history ,so intense and powerful that, as an individual, he must reject them: »A hand which will one day be devoured by worms cannot carry the burden of eternity«. In »A Similarity« the narrator sits in a bar and listens – at first by chance and then with greater concentration – to the monologue of another guest , from  which he draws bitter lessons from his experiences of love. It is only at the end that he realizes with horror that the other guest’s voice sounds exactly like his own and that he himself is reciting the litany of despair. In »Approaching Marcus Antonius« he makes use of the historical relationship between Cleopatra and Marcus Antonius as a metaphor to describe the origins of the modern novel. Nasser’s language is full of military metaphors here, for instance describing the arms of the beloved as »polished spears« or comparing the mental confusion  of a newly-infatuated person to a »desolate command post«. Nasser knows how to use simple words to express large ideas: whether alienation from one’s own culture, recognition of self in strangers or those suffering from alienation or the description of dangerous love.

He has published nine collections of poetry and two travel novels to date.  Apart from a collection of poetry recently published in  English translation, his poems have appeared in anthologies in French, Italian, Spanish, and German. In 2006 he was awarded the Mohamed Al-Maghout Prize for Poetry in Syria.

Amjad Nasser lives in London.

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