The Arab Apocalypse
Poetry. Middle Eastern studies. Translated from the French by the author. Reprinted with a new foreward by Jalal Toufic. "This book, a masterwork of the dislocations and radiant outcries of the Arab world, reaffirms Etel Adnan, who authored the great poem, Jebu, as among the foremost poets of the French Language. THE ARAB APOCALYPSE is an immersion into a rapture of chaos clawing towards destiny, and nullified hope refusing its zero. Is is also the journey of soul through the cartography of a global immediacy rarely registered by maps, replete with signposts like hieroglyphs in a storm of shrapnel and broken glass. And above all it is a book that, though capable of being read in its orderly sequence, has so surrendered to 'being there,' it can rivet the sensibility to the Middle Eastern condition at any point in the text--so rapid are its mutations, so becoming its becomingness--like a wisdom book or a book of Changes"--Jack Hirschman.
Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925, the daughter of a Greek Christian from Smyrna and a high- ranking Ottoman officer from Damascus. Her work as a whole is a faithful record of the times and places she has lived in Beirut, Paris, and in the San Francisco Bay Area. At least eighteen works by Adnan have been published in English. They include SITT MARIE ROSE (Post-Apollo Press, 1982); THE ARAB APOCALYPSE (Post-Apollo Press, 1989); SEA AND FOG (Nightboat Books, 2012), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry and the California Book Award for Poetry; and PREMONITION (Kelsey Street Press, 2014). Nightboat Books published the 2-volume set, TO LOOK AT THE SEA IS TO BECOME WHAT ONE IS: AN ETEL ADNAN READER, in 2014. In 2011, Adnan received Small Press Traffic's Lifetime Achievement Award. Her paintings, described by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as "stubbornly radiant abstractions," have been widely exhibited, most recently at Documenta 13 and in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Spanning media and genres, Adnan's writings have led to numerous collaborations with artists and musicians, including the French part of CIVIL WarS, a multi-language opera by American stage director Robert Wilson, performed in Lyon and Bobigny in 1985.
"It has a power and intensity that few poets today can muster—only Allen Ginsberg's Howl comes to mind."—Alice Molloy
"The power of Adnan's language and imagery reminds us that she is indeed one of the most significant post-modern poets in contemporary Arab culture."—Kamal Boullatta
"THE ARAB APOCALYPSE is, to date, Adnan's most triumphant battle with the exactness of words."—Douglas Powell
"The poem invokes a mythic past of Gilgamesh, Tammouz, and Ishtar to presage a present that resists narration, THE ARAB APOCALYPSE contests an uncritical reflection on the immediate historical past."—Barbara Harlow