Had it been up to the poets, perhaps peace between Syria and Israel would have been established long ago. This was the obvious conclusion reached several days ago at the poetry festival held in Lleida, Spain. It was where Israeli poets Ronny Somek, the celebrated Syrian Lebanese poet Adonis and the Syrian poetess Maram al-Misri found a common language.
Ali Ahmad Said Asbar, also known by the pseudonym Adonis or Adunis, is a Syrian-born poet and essayist who has made his career largely in Lebanon and France. He has written more than twenty books in his native Arabic.
At the age of 24 he fled to Lebanon after being arrested for nationalist political activity. In Lebanon he abandoned his nationalist ideas and in 1974 immigrated to Paris.
Adonis is considered to be one of the greatest Arab poets of all times and was nominated for a Nobel Prize in Literature. He is a friend of the Israeli poet Natan Zach and the two have published a joint work together. Adonis' work was published in Hebrew in Israel in 1989, and Ronny Somek wrote a poem entitled "Shalom, to Adonis the King," which was added to the preface.
Somek, who came to Barcelona for the publication of his book "Pirate Love," arrived at the festival in Lleida and met Adonis for the first time. The two hit it off right away. "We spoke in Arabic, and it seemed as though the world was free of war," Somek said Sunday.
The next day the two poets appeared in a panel discussing the status of poets' worldwide. The presenter asked each of them to recite one of their poems. Somek recited a poem, but beforehand he handed Adonis and al-Misri a translation into Arabic of his poem "Algiers."
When Adonis' turn came, the audience was amazed when he told them that instead of reciting his own poem he would recite the translation of Somek's poem. The audiences applauded loudly in appreciation of the gesture.
"It was one of the most moving moments of my career," said Somek "I shivered all over, the Spanish press made a big thing of it the next day," he added.
With regards to the Syrian poetess, Somek said Maram al-Misri told him that it had been difficult for her to write a poem following the recent war in Lebanon." Somek is now looking for an opportunity to invite Adonis to visit Israel.