Niz’r Qabb-ni Biography

(21 March 1923 – 30 April 1998) (Damasco, Syria. Lawyer, Diplomat, Writer and Poet of Syrian origin, recognized in the literary world for his romantic and erotic poetry, through which he exalts the female figure, which is why he has been baptized by some sectors of the Arabic letters “the poet of women and the love.”


Likewise, her lyrics try to capture the vision of women, to the detriment of machismo and to women’s social freedoms. He is also regarded by literary critics as one of the best poets in the Arabic language, who is credited with creating a “third language”, which achieves the use of the highest Arabic grammar, imbued with the creativity and elasticity of speech Colloquial.

Early life

He was born on March 21, 1923, in the Syrian capital of Damascus, into a well-to-do family, which already counted among its members Abu-Jalil, Qabb’ni’s uncle, and who founded contemporary Syrian theatre.

For his part, the poet’s father was a pastry chef, as well as one of the most leading members of the National Bloc opposed to France and its colonial policies on Arabic soil. He began his studies in Damascus, where he had the opportunity to study his Secondary at the National Scientific Faculty, together with the children of the upper damascene class. During this period he was a student of the poet Jalil-Mardam.

Poetic work and diplomatic career

According to historians, Qabb-ni writes his first poem, at the age of sixteen, during a school trip in Italy in 1939, which he named “He told me the brunette” (q.lat l.s-samr.’). He finished his university studies in Damascus, graduating in Law, a career he never practiced.

In 1945 he began his diplomatic career, being appointed to Cairo. During his stay in Egypt, he published his first poem Adolescent Breast, published in 1948. That same year, he departed in a diplomatic mission to Ankara, where he remained until 1850, the year in which he also sees the light of his second poem You are to me.

In 1952 he was sent to London, where he served in his diplomatic post until 1955. The following year, he edited his new book, entitled Poems. In 1958 and until 1960, he was sent to Beijing.

In 1961, his pen produced a new poem, entitled Amada mi, which is considered one of his most outstanding books. Then, in 1962, his duties as diplomat would take him to Madrid, Spain, where he would remain until 1965.

During this time, specifically in 1963, he wrote one of his books in prose, which he christened Poetry is a green candil. A year later, he moved to Lebanon, where he founded his own publishing house. In 1967, the audience received from his lyrics the poem Draw with Words, also had as one of his greatest literary works.

However, for literary critics, 1967 marks a year of a break in the poetics of Qabb-ni, in which his idea expands, also covering political issues, concerning the situation of his homeland and his people.

Literary evolution

Some historians point out that the historical fact that directly influenced the poetic evolution of this writer was the terrible defeat suffered by the Arab people, during the Six-Day War. Terribly affected, like his connationals, Qabb-ni captures in his poem “Notes in the Notebook of Defeat”, published in August 1967, a deep self-criticism about the circumstances that had led to the loss of combat.

However, far from causing the desired reflection, Qabb’ni’s verses came to deepen the pain, causing strong manifestations of rejection, both to this poet, and to the Beiruti magazine Al-Abad, which published the verses of Qabb-ni.

In 1967 he also decided to leave for England, where he settled in the City of London. On arrival he founded the Editorial Niz-r Qabb-ni. Likewise, from that moment on, his poetry took on another dimension, becoming – according to criticism – a constant voice in claim for Arab causes, while posing a new conception of Arabic, needing to seek new linguistic paradigms, social and historical. However, it does not depart from its main theme: love.

In 1970 he published the poems Cien Cartas de Amor y No. The following year, he sees the light of his autobiographical book On Verse, Sex and Revolution. In 1972, Versos Out of law was published. In 1973 he published his second biography, entitled My History with Poetry. During 1978 he published his work in Daily Prose of a city called Beirut, a book that for some of his scholars is considered a sensitive reflection on the history of this Arab capital.

That same year he goes out into the world his play I love you, I love you, and the rest… Come. Later, in 1981 he published, also in prose, What is Poetry?, a book considered a hybrid text, which oscillates between poetic prose, autobiography and literary criticism. In 1993 he edited Arabic Poems of Love. These just to name a few of the most prominent books of his pen, also considered one of the most prolific in Arabic.

Final years

Finally, after a life marked by several personal tragedies, including the suicide of his sister and the murder of his second wife, Balqis al Rawi, during an attack in Beirut, Niz-r Qabb-ni died in the city of London, England, on 30 Thy April 1998, at the age of seventy-five, the result of a heart attack.

Today, he is regarded by the world of Letters as one of the greatest contemporary Arab poets. Many of his verses have been taken by Lebanese and Syrian singers to musicalize them, thus becoming highly popular songs. His body rests, as his last will, in the family cemetery in Damascus, Syria.

Image source: poesiaarabe.com

Niz’r Qabb-ni Biography
Source: Education  
August 6, 2019


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