Adonis at 90
A digital, poetic, collective undertaking
2020 is the year of the ninetieth birthday of the poet Adonis, whose work has consistently confronted the changes of time, both on the long run and in the present. His words exert a considerable influence in Europe, from the Iberian Peninsula to Scandinavia, in the world, from the Near East to the Far East, from the Indian subcontinent to North America, from Latin America to Southeast Asia, from Africa to the United Kingdom. Adonis was born on January 1, 1930, and he chose his name to mark the renewal of the year, the entry into the new that poetry enables – for Adonis is the god of the new year in Mesopotamian mythologies.
For sixty years, Adonis’ work and journey have embodied the possibility of poetry in the world, of a heroic life in and with poetry: that of a free, fully creative word, questioning the standards that oppress lives all over the world. Living in Paris, Adonis has transformed and preserved the Arabic language, but his presence extends to the whole world. It is a rare case of a prestigious presence in the world, provided by a monumental oeuvre, which gives Adonis the grounding of his expression. An expert in all forms of the Arabic language, he has also contributed very early to the knowledge of Western avant-garde poetry, establishing unexpected bridges, shedding a new light onto little-known aspects of poetry, but also of human life as a whole.
Adonis’s birthday represents a moment of reflection for our existence: it pertains to the role of poetry, the belief in humanity at its fullest, the role of the past and of modernity. To celebrate this moment, a collective of artists, thinkers, actors of world intellectual life, comes together to each give a birthday video to Adonis, to demonstrate the importance of a poetic life in a changing world – one that is at risk of cultural and human impoverishment. This invitation is developed at the initiative of Donatien Grau and with the participation of Arwad Esber.
Their videos are uploaded on December 31, 2020, on the website adonis90.org, on the last day of Adonis’ ninetieth birthday, on the eve of his ninety-first birthday and the shift from one year to the next – as per the choice by Adonis of his name. Through their words, their creative gestures, the participants will show the importance of poetry, and what it implies, for each of our lives; what the power of a poet telling our world can bring today to our existences as we are all separated, around the world, without any possible community.