Alwan Poetics: A Series of Verse and Music- Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri
Arabic literature, like most literature, sprung into existence with an outburst of poetry, but, unlike many others, its poetry seems to have issued forth full-grown. It is said that when a poem was composed, people from different regions of Arabia would flock and send good wishes to the families of the poet. Arab culture is an environment wherein political debates took place in poetry. Abul ʿAla Al-Maʿarri stands high as a towering figure in this tradition. An acerbic rationalist, indignant about oppressive social structures, Al-Maʿarri's literary and philosophical output is characterized by a great deal of pessimism and a macabre fascination with loss and death. As the above lines highlight, Al Ma'arri refused adherence to family, lineage or nation. He embraced even his own finality.
Discussant, Mohamed Alwan was born in Baghdad. He received his PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Indiana and taught at Georgetown, Harvard, and Tufts, after which he recently retired. His latest publication is "Ancient Arab Beliefs" (2010). He is now working on a book on pre-Islamic mythologies.
The Alwan Arab Music Ensemble are masters of a broad range of Arab musical idioms display their seasoned sensibilities and impressive technique across a diverse array of musical selections, evoking ambiances of Cairo, Baghdad, al-Quds and Aleppo, but as importantly that of contemporary New York.
George Ziadeh,oud, vocals
Johnny Farraj,riqq, vocals
Zafer Tawil, qanun, violin, vocals
Amir ElSaffar,santur, vocals
Alwan for the Arts (View)
16 Beaver St. 4th Floor
New York, NY 10004
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