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AL BABTAIN DICTIONARY OF CONTEMPORARY ARAB POETS
Preface

Compiling a dictionary of one Arab country poetry is considered a sort of taking a risk; it is so because it requires great exceptional efforts even if the dictionary is limited to the published poetry. So, the effort will be doubled up if the dictionary contains a great number of poets including their collections of poems, their biographies, however short they are, highlighting their literary products, what has been said or written about them, and what prizes they have gained. This sort of action undoubtedly requires consulting thousands of references, making series of communications, undergoing the burden of authorizing information, supervising the printing process, and making sure of its accuracy, besides the heavy costs that overburden the Foundation and the individuals as well. Now, how will the case be if the dictionary covers a number that exceeds twenty territories extending at a very large area of land and inhabited by hundred millions of peoples? Surely, persons and establishments will avoid thinking of such a kind of adventure. For this reason, when I suggested the idea to the board of trustees, the majority objected to it not because they gave it no importance but for fear that the Foundation might not be able to cover the financial maturity, anyhow, and after elaborate discussions, the members approved the idea and showed their willingness to render every possible help for changing the idea into reality.

The Foundation asked for the assistance of those experts to supervise this project, and delegates and researchers all over the Arab World and outside its borders were charged with different tasks for the sake of fulfilling this unique cultural feat. Within five years (1991 _ 1995), they did their best and took a great responsibility as courageous as the freedom fighters and as honest as the believers in searching and communicating in order to reach the poets at their houses, however they were in distant places, and a team of critics, editors, revisers, and checkers exerted themselves to achieve this work in a very accurate way.

I felt that I had to follow up the work step by step during the five years and present whatever needed, financially or non-financially, until it has been completed in a way that satisfied most critics and researchers all over the Arab World, and it was the target of their concern and appreciation in view of the fact that it is one of the limited great cultural Arab feat in the twentieth century. It is the first time a dictionary like this has been issued by a civil volunteering foundation, a dictionary that confines the poetical map with all its geographical dimensions, types, and manifestation. This Dictionary has not been devoted to famous poets only, but also for everyone who has done well in the field of poetry and has had no chance to publish his/her poetry; thus the dictionary has paved the way for him/her to occupy his/her suitable position side by side with his/her friends, those famous poets.

In spite of the fact that this dictionary has contained about two thousand poets in its second edition; nevertheless, the achieving of this great work has not been absolutely on the account of the dictionary goodness, and the project maintained the objective and scientific acuity, and this is obvious in the principles adopted in selecting the number (1946) out of (3225) poets. We sought accuracy of information when we invited poets to write their biographies by themselves, and the experience of the revisers and checkers played an important role in avoiding committing mistakes so that this dictionary has proved without any shadow of doubt that when the brilliant mind supported by money is able to realize what was once a sort of the impossible in the field of culture.

This dictionary has become a reliable reference for higher studies students, a valuable book for the centers of research, and a good companion for critics and men of letters.

After we have had a very good feedback from those who are interested in culture, in addition to the praises expressed by the cultural boards, I proposed to widen the scope of this work by releasing it from its Arab framework and giving it the international tincture by translating the biographies of the poets from Arabic into English and entering this translation into the Foundation site on the Internet so that it might become handy for everyone who has a desire to make use of it whether he is a researcher or he likes to be acquainted with Arab poets and their poetry, and in order to make it clear to those who live outside the borders of the Arab World that the Arab poetical movement is rich and has the factors of innovation.

In view of the fact that civilizations debate is one of the Foundation bases and for this purpose "Abdulaziz Saud Al Babtain Center for Civilization Debate" was founded on the basis that debate and communication would not be attained unless the two parties know each other quite well, and poets are the only persons who are able to embody this inner fact among nations in all its fixed and changeable principles, open and secret. So let those poets be the communication bridges among nations hoping that humanity may live as one family help one another in hardship and ease realizing the statement of Allah as saying in the Holy Koran "You Mankind! We have created you from a male and a female and We made you nations and tribes that you may know each other".

Abdulaziz Saud Al Babtain
Kuwait
25th of Jumada Al Akhirah A.H.
20th of July 2006 A.D.
The Dictionary Story

In the middle of the 1991, the Foundation Custodian thought of compiling a dictionary of the modem Arab poets, and when he suggested the idea to the board of trustees, they entirely objected to it in the beginning, but after the idea had been discussed from the viewpoint of the dictionary's importance, the board of trustees showed their approval.

The starting point was nominating Dr. Ahmad Mukhtar Omar as a technical counselor and responsible of editing the dictionary. However, Dr. Omar made a study that included his preconception of the work and the time needed for achieving it. The board of trustees approved the plan, and soon teamwork was formed to supervise and follow up the stages of execution. Three offices were opened in each of Amman, Tunisia, and Cairo. An agent was appointed in each of the Arab capitals, and a computer unit was installed at the head quarter of the Foundation in Kuwait. The agent task was to supervise filling the forms and send them to the editing bureau in Kuwait.

Some executive measures synchronized with the formation of the teamwork like deciding the forms which will be filled by the poets, and an advertising campaign was announced in the newspapers and other mass media inviting the Arab poets all over the World to take part in this dictionary, and letters were sent to the literary and cultural unions, leagues, and societies to help explain the aim of the dictionary and to render the possible help. Moreover, field visits were made to Yemen, Sudan, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Sultanate of Oman, Tunisia, Mauritania, Morocco, Iskenderun Province, and Libya, and delegations were sent to communicate with the cultural and governmental bodies and men of letters leagues, and they even visited poets in their houses.

The Foundation issued the first dictionary draft, which included twenty poets' biographies, and then it was distributed to be discussed by the cultural establishments, and, therefore, a number of meetings were held for this purpose.

When the general secretariat received a large number of the filled forms, a committee headed by Dr. Muhammad Fattouh Ahmad was charged with checking those forms and excluding the low-level ones. The committee held more than one hundred meetings, and more than three thousand forms were studied. After completing the checking process, lists including the accepted poets were sent to the board of trustees and the dictionary committee in the different Arab countries, and the working party looked into the lists approving some names and disregarded some others. A third specialist party was charged with restudying the excluded forms, which in turn approved a few of them, and so the total number of the approved forms became 1640.

Dr. Ahmad Mukhtar Omar was charged with writing the biography of each poet and Dr. Suleiman Ash Shatti with revising it. Dr. Muhammad Fattuh Ahmad was charged with revising the poetical samples, and the general secretary would have the final look on them.

Meanwhile, printing on computer was carried out in an accurate and regular way. The dictionary board stated that the dictionary would be issued in six volumes; each volume would consist of about 750 pages. So, a contest was announced all over the Arab world for designing the dictionary cover and arranging its items, and the winner was charged with supervising the dictionary production process.

After five years of communication, following up, editing, checking, printing, revising, and handling the demerits, the first edition came to life as the first encyclopedic work that covers the modern poetical movement in all its trends and places. The necessary indexes were appended to the dictionary with an introduction about the movement of the modern Arab poetry in every Arab country.

As soon as the first edition was issued, it was highly appreciated by researchers and cultural boards. Therefore, the Foundation, due to the encouraging feedback, decided to issue a dictionary that contains as many Arab living poets as possible in order to follow up what is new in the field of poetry on one hand, and to give a chance to those who could not participate in the first edition on the other. However, about (1243) forms were received, and after they had been studied, (306) poets were added to the previous number, and the shortcomings were handled and new information was added, and the new edition was issued in 2003 in seven volumes containing (1946) poets.

The issuing of Al Babtain Dictionary is considered one of the pioneering great works and that the Foundation, undoubtedly, occupies a high-level position to the educated Arabs. Nevertheless, the Foundation is careful to develop its literary work in order to cope with the cultural prospects and remain worthy of its outstanding referential poetical position in the Arab World.

Abdulaziz Al Suraye
General Secretary
Head of Editing office
The Dictionary Plan

It has been decided since the very beginning that the poets would fill the forms with information concerning their biographies personally, that they themselves would choose the poems to be included in the dictionary, and that the dictionary would be restricted to the modern living Arab poets.

The board of trustees and the dictionary board members agreed to allocate two opposing pages to each poet; a half of the first page would be devoted to the poet's biography and the rest to the poetical samples. The poet's biography should be entitled with his surname, next the full name would be written, date and place of birth, his works, the prizes he gained, what was written about him, the poet's address, his photo, and a sample of his poetry written in his handwriting.

The dictionary is not only devoted to the great poets, but also to those poets who have a good level of poetics, however young they are, and not widely well known, and thus giving them the chance to publish some of their works.

The poet will be accepted on condition that he should attain an accurate language, a sound rhythm, and a good level from the technical point of view.

The poetical samples were chosen on the basis that they do not harm the fixed principles and values, and that they should cover multi-subjects. The names of the poets were arranged alphabetically with indexes so that the reader or the user of the dictionary can easily use it. The Foundation has intended to record the contents of the dictionary on a compact disc (C D) and enter the data into the Foundation site on the Internet so that it will be available to a great number of readers and researches.

Prof. Dr. Ahmad Mukhtar Omar
The Modern Arab Poetry
Critical Introduction

We mean by the Modern Arab Poetry the poetry which was written in a specific era including the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries; that is the period when poetry became more intellectual and witnessed progressive steps, though similar in features, but with some relative changes. This period witnessed a poetical rise differed in its speed and in timing from one Arab country to another, yet the results were almost the same. This rise has been accompanied by a national awakening, and a comprehensive development of the political, social, and economical structure, which paved the way for such a movement. The most outstanding feature that identified the priorities of this movement is the exceeding reaction between East and West that began with the French invasion of Egypt, and which was followed by the initial cognitive awareness of the values of new science and knowledge. In order to acquire this very new science, delegates were sent to Europe and, therefore, translation was activated and focused on the scientific aspect of the human innovation including all its aspects. This reaction resulted in a sort of severe argument based on the fact that whether it is better to advocate the new movement that depends on translating the works of the others or to abide by heritage.

The nineteenth century is considered the time of reaction maturity and the twentieth century is the time of the explosion of information in which a new concept of the poem and its structure appeared and that was in the end of the nineteenth century and in the first four decades of the past century. The center of this new movement was in Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon because those countries were the forerunners to react with the West, whereas it came late in the countries of Iraq, the Arab Gulf countries, Al Maghreb countries, and Yemen.

The late nineteenth century witnessed the emergence of the animation movement of Arab poetry all over the Arab World. Two common features characterized this movement; going back to heritage and imitating its high level samples and considering the going back to heritage a means for confronting the others.

The new poetical movement has been transferred from self-cognition to self-confirmation in a romantic framework making use of the Expatriates Movement that was the first in creating the pioneering model of that poetry, the Collection Group that decided the type of the theory and standardization, and Apollo Group that collected a number of Arab poets. This movement led to making the Ego as the axis of the rhymed saying; that is the Ego, which is full of complaint, homesickness, pain, thus the poetical language flourished with life and the resorting to nature, escaping from society, and living in isolation have become the hypostasis of the new movement. Although the romantic passion was common in the period between the two World Wars, yet the researcher will undoubtedly notice the differences of time that limited Romanticism in the Arab countries from the beginning to the end when it was mixed with Symbolism to some poets, and with Realism to some others, and the state of affairs which was prevailing in the Arab countries also differed as long as the relationship between the foreign culture and political-social circumstances were concerned.

The radical transition of the Arab poem which took place in the forties resulted in the emergence of the free verse or the so-called feet verse in which the poem shifted from being abided by a number of feet in each verse with a unified rhyme to a free verse that had nothing to do with such conditions. However, this transition movement came as a response to the new circumstances; in other words, the poem has no longer written just to be heard by illiterate people or to be recited in celebrations and this, of course, required a sort of noisy music, whereas the new poem?s shape came more suitable to reading and listening. This new movement was not only adopted in Egypt, Lebanon, and Iraq but also in most Arab countries, and its remarkable features were embodied in shifting from the poetical line into the poetical sentence, in addition to the circulation phenomenon which was given to the new poem without going far from tradition but dealing with it in a new way. Instead of opposing and quoting from tradition taking into consideration that it is the source of the artistic view that foretells (what was to be) with (what should be) and what omission, addition, distortion, and interpretation might be caused, some tended to inspire the historical sign and deal with it as an entire mold that confines the poem movement.

As for the poem which emerged after the renewal movement in the sixties, the seventies, and the eighties, it was written in a way depending on continuous experimentation and running the artificial risk and thus it moved from the unity of the poetical sentence to the unity of the item, and the chapter exploited all kinds of voice enjoyment and the arts of figures of speech.

In terms of structure, the new poem has been designed according to certain rules that disturb the relationship between means and aims relating this to the text and not to the memory, bringing forward what should be backward, separating the correlatives, displacing the qualifier and the qualified, and omitting the similes limits, and moreover, some tended to commit horrible mistakes by making the pronoun refer to an uttered pronounced (the) and using it with verbs, and the poetical sentence was replaced by a single word. In a word, the circulation phenomenon has overwhelmed the whole text for the sake of releasing the expressions from their worn out meanings and in order to create an atmosphere of excitement and agitation and no more.

Despite the fact that this new movement has been prevailing in our poetry for about half a century, we have no way except for confronting its consequent dangers aiming at putting it on the right track and consequently avoiding the spreading of the circulation phenomenon and the scarcity of meters and formality.

The range of Arab poetry, in spite of the different forms of modernity, has not lost its integrity between old and new. This dictionary has come to highlight the features of this integrity, its degrees, and stages on the level of the Arab World and to present to the researchers a scientific material that enables them evaluate this poetry accurately and have influence on its future tracks.

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Fattouh Ahmad



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