(Damascus, 1979) belongs to a new generation of young, engaged Arabic writers. Weg van Damascus (Away from Damascus), a Dutch collection of his poems, was for weeks in the top ten of best-selling poetry volumes in 2015. In 2017, Ik Hier Jij Daar (Me Here You There) was published, a collection he wrote with Poet of the Fatherland Anne Vegter. Almadhoun was born in a Palestinian refugee camp, the son of a Palestinian father and a Syrian mother. He studied Arabic literature and worked as a cultural journalist in Damascus, where he also set up a house of poetry. In 2008 he asked for political asylum in Sweden. Two poetry collections were published there, one of them written with Swede Marie Silkeberg, with whom he also created poetry films, for example about bomb attacks in the Gaza Strip. His poetry is imbued with feelings of homesickness and the guilt of a young intellectual who left his native country. His work has been translated into many European languages as well as Chinese.(2017)
Archive available for: Ghayath Almadhoun
The 23rd Winternachten international literature festival-edition took place from Thursday 18 January up till and including Sunday 21 January. Over 80 writers, poets and musicians from The Netherlands and abroad this time not only came to festival locations Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag, but will also visit schools and perform in The Hague neighbourhoods.
The festival, known for its scintillating mix of declamation, readings, conversations about topical subjects, musical performances and film programme, has no less then eight locations this edition. From 18-21 January, central festival locations are Theater aan het Spui and Filmhuis Den Haag.
Additionally, the festival presents free entry writers' performances at the Speakers' Corner of the Haagse Hogeschoo, at the International Institute of Social Studies, at Theater Dakota, at public library Schilderswijk and public library Nieuw Waldeck.
The Lighthouse, centre for debate, culture and innovation of the Haagse Hogeschool and Winternachten festival present, Thursday 18 January, at the Speakers' Corner the programme 'Dichterbij Dichters' (Close up to Poets) featuring poetry-slam talent Sanam Sheriff from India, poets Efe Murad (Turkey) and Ghayath Almadhoun (Sweden), and writer-poet Maarten van der Graaff from the Netherlands: Writers Unlimited introduces a new international literary generation. Participants read from their own work and Hassnae Bouazza discusses the expressiveness of poetry with the poets and the public.
Writers talks about their favourite book - the book that inspires or moves them; the book that formed their aristic, moral or intellectual compass; the book that they would recommend to anyone.
In spring 2017 the joint poetry collection Me Here You There by Palestinian-Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun and the former Poet of the Fatherland Anne Vegter was published. For Writers Unlimited, they have collaborated with two exceptional musical talents: the Hague-Syrian-Palestinian oud-player and music professor Amer Shanati and singer-songwriter Stefka.
Vegter wrote the following about the creation of Me Here You There: "I first heard Ghayath Almadhoun during an interview with his translator Djûke Poppinga. He said that he fled Syria before the civil war broke out. He asked for asylum in Sweden and wrote the Poem 'I Cannot Be Present' in Stockholm, which articulates his discomfort at the distance between himself and the war in his native country.
As someone born and living in a safe country, my situation is of course much different. The world is burning and I refuse to look the other way. It's easy to do so with a roof over my head. My own discomfort led me to write poetry about war. My war is not his war. Ghayath and I decided to collaborate on a volume of poetry: his voice, my voice, my poems, his poems."
Schiller's idealistic poem about Europe and humanity, adapted to the here and now! Writers Unlimited asked seven writers and poets each to write their own Ode to Joy. This evening they presented their newly written works.
Participants at this Odes 2.0 were Nino Haratischwili, Magda Cârneci, Sanam Sheriff, Efe Murad, Grazyna Plebanek, Gustaaf Peek. Ghayath Almadhoun and Charlotte Van den Broeck. They recited their work in their mother tongues, with simultaneous projections of Dutch and/or English translations. Classical accordionist Oleg Lysenko, Cellist Elisabeth Sturtewagen and soprano Jole De Baerdemaeker provided musical accompaniment.
Originally written in 1785, Schiller's Ode to Joy lives on because Ludwig van Beethoven added one of its stanzas to the finale (for choir and soloists) of his Ninth Symphony. In 1985, the European Union Chose this particular segment - albeit in wordless form - as the official hymn of the EU. In the poem, Schiller transmits the ideal of a world in which all people live in brotherhood.
How do we deal with borders in an era of globalization? Writers Unlimited presents a conversation about the necessity and the impossibility of national borders in an ever-shrinking world.
In his new, contemporary love story Exit West, the successful Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid describes life in a time of global migration. In the book, nominated for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, a young couple flees violence in their country via secret doors that lead to Greece and other places.
Paul Scheffer, author and professor of European Studies at the universities of Tilburg and Amsterdam, published the esssay De vrijheid van de grens (The border's freedom, 2016) in which he states that an open society can only exist by a certain spatial demarcation.
Ghayath Almadhoun read from his work for this event. The poet, a member of a young and engaged generation of Arabic writers, has a Palestinian-Syrian background and has lived in Sweden since 2008. He was a journalist in Damascus and set up a house of poetry there.
The musical contribution to this program was by The Hague oud-player, composer and music teacher Amer Shanati; visual artist and illustrator Gerda Dendooven made live drawings.
Watch the video-registration of this programme. What will the future of Syria look like once the war has come to an end? Moderator and writer David Van Reybrouck discussed this question with the Syrian novelist Nihad Siries and the Palestine/Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun. Both are in exile. They read from their work, and met Laila Zwaini, a researcher on shari'a, rule of law, tribes, and social change in the Arab and Muslim World. They were joined by the Belgium writer Lieve Joris, who wrote a book about Syria. Will Syria go the same way as Iraq, where the attempt to establish a democracy has failed completely? Will it, in all its religious and ethnic diversity, ever become a stable state? Could it ever become the home that the Syrian authors in exile dream of?
This evening is in English. A programme of B Unlimited, organised by Writers Unlimited in co-operation with The Hague Central Library, and with support of the Municipality of The Hague, PEN Netherlands and Theatre of Wrong Decisions. Curated by Tom Dommisse.