Robyn Creswell, City of Beginnings, Princeton University Press
Where: 192 Books
192 Tenth Ave.
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Join us for a conversation between poet Lawrence Joseph and scholar Robyn Creswell about politics and poetry in the Middle East. Creswell’s new book, City of Beginnings (Princeton) is an exploration of modernism in Arabic poetry, a grouping that emerged in Beirut during the 1950s, and became the most influential Arabic artistic tendency of the twentieth century. The book introduces English-language readers to a poetic movement that is uncannily familiar—and unsettlingly strange.
Creswell also provides an intellectual history of Lebanon during the early Cold War, when Beirut became both a battleground for rival ideologies and the most vital artistic site in the Middle East. The Arab modernists—Adonis, Yusuf al-Khal, and Unsi al-Hajj chief among them—translated modernism into Arabic, redefining the very idea of poetry in that literary tradition. City of Beginnings tells the story of their creative encounters with Ezra Pound, Saint-John Perse, and Antonin Artaud, as well as their adaptations of classical literary forms. The book also reveals how the Beiruti modernists used ideas of liberal individualism, autonomy, and political freedom to create a radical poetics, which has shaped Arabic literary and intellectual debate to this day.Buy tickets/get more info now