23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Nujum Al-Ghanem

Nujum Al-Ghanem was born in Dubai in 1962. In 1996 she graduated in video production in Ohio, USA, and completed her master’s degree in media production at the Griffith University in Australia. From 1985 to 1999 she ran the Cultural Department at »al-Ittihad« newspaper in Dubai and worked as a producer for radio and TV channels in the United Arab Emirates. She began writing at an early age. Nowadays she sees herself primarily as a poet and has published six collections of poems.

Within the young literature of the Emirates – practically unknown even within the Arabic-speaking world – Nujum has a firm position. Unlike the traditionally dominant »Nabati« style of the Gulf States’ literature, which intersperses High Arabic with slang, combines classical topoi with everyday language and folkloric proverbs, and due to its strong roots in classical Arabic Qasid poetry can be quite political, she and many other Emirate poets of her own and younger generations work in so-called »free verse«. She covers a wide range of themes and topics in a lucid, readable style, mainly on the themes of love and desire: politics is not touched upon at all, or at most is indirectly sketched. She has developed her own characteristic style in her poetry; in impressionistic short poems – largely written from a first person perspective – she combines fleeting, casual observations from her everyday environment with original twists: »I watched the light and it seemed to me that it wanted to come to me / to illuminate my thoughts / but it is extinguished / and I don’t even notice« (from »Atama mukhtalifa«, tr.: A Different Dark Evening; from her latest collection »Mala’ikat al-ashwaq al-ba’ida«, tr.: The Angel of Distant Yearnings, 2008). The lyrical »I« retreats to an imagistic world of nature, which can however only provide fragments of reality: »I take the meditation rug / and flee to the ocean / where the gulls gather / to join me in prayer / and the morning meal« (from: »Fil-sabah«, tr.: Morning, ibid. 2008).

In 2008 she won prizes for her film »al-Murid« (2008, tr.: The Novice) at the Gulf Film Festival in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi. In the same year she was honoured as the best female filmmaker in the United Arab Emirates at the 5th International Film Festival in Dubai. The poet lives and works as a writer and film producer in Dubai, and is a board member of the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH).

© international literature festival berlin


Massa Al Janna
Writers & Literature
Bahrain, 1989

Al Jarraaer
Writers & Literature
Bahrain, 1991

Manasil al-Dschulnar
Mu’assasat al-Intishar
Beirut, 2000

La wasfa lima ana fiih
al-Mu’assassa al-’Arabiya
Beirut, 2005

Mala’ikat al-ashwaq
al-Mu’assassa al-’Arabiya
Beirut, 2008