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The pen-name Adonis, which Ali Ahmad Said began to use in the early 60s, refers to the mythological figures of the Mediterranean which interested Arab poets of the Tammuzi school in that period, the dying gods we know from the archaic mythologies of Egypt, Phoenicia and Greece. Born in 1930, Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said) mastered traditional poetic forms very early as a child in Syria. Later, in Lebanon, he became a pivotal figure in the new poetry which began to appear in the influential magazine Mawâqif, which he edited with Yûsif al-Khâl starting in 1968. By that time he had established himself, through poems like those in Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs, as a writer who was thinking of new possibilities in Arabic poetry. Especially in Aghânî Mihyâr Dimishqî, Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs (1963), Adonis forged a new set of possibilities for Arabic poetry, writing in traditional meters but directing them towards a kind of modernism which rethought every possibility of rhythm, style, and conceptual complexity.  Adonis has acted as visiting professor to a variety of institutions including Damascus University, Princeton University, and the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin. In 1986 he was nominated Permanent Assistant Delegate to the Arab League at UNESCO. He currently lives in Paris.

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