Adnan Al-Sayegh (kofa, 1955) is a poet of the Eighties' Movement in Iraq: a generation of poets voicing their discontent that stems from having to choose between living in the ciaos of their homeland or being exiled from their own culture: they are torn between love for their native land and hatred against those who are in charge. Adnan has become the most important poet of this Eighties' Movement. He has never allowed himself to be influenced by censorship or intimidation and, in both his poetry and prose, sharply condemns each and every form of dictatorship. He has especially been critical of his own country Iraq and its autocrat Saddam Hussein. During the performance of a play by Adnan, in which the Gulf War and those responsible in Iraq were being criticized, the police raided the theatre and Adnan was consequently interrogated over a period of three hours at the Ministry of Culture. He was told that he would be put in prison if he failed to change his style of writing. Not long after his incident Adnan was told by his friends that his life was in danger. Adnan decided to use the poetry festival in Jordan in 1993 as a cover-up for his escape. Together with his family he settled in Amman. Just in time, it seemed, as not long after, one of the Hussein's sons become president of the writer's guild in Iraq, as a result of which the reign of terror against rebelling poet sharply increased. Even in Amman, however, the secret service succeeded in tracing Adnan and his children received death threats. Nevertheless he published a new collection of poems in London in 1995; Under foreign skies. In these poems he criticizes he Iraqi authorities and describes life under a dictatorial regime. All of Adnan's works of the past decade were taken off the market by the Iraqi government as an act of reprisal. For more than a year Adnan lived in Amman under the patronage of the king of Jordan. After the publication of his latest collection Hymne of the leaves in 1996, however, he could no longer guarantee him the necessary protection either. Adnan's collection, as a result of pressure exerted by the Iranian government, was banned in Jordan now as well. Adnan has now been living in Sweden for some time. The Poetry International Award Foundation, following Amnesty International's advice, has awarded him with the Poetry International Award 1996 for his undiminished efforts for free speech.


* 28e Poetry International - Rotterdamse Schouwburg - 14 t/m 20 juni 1997 FESTIVALBOEK

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