Adel Karasholi

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Adel Karasholi
Adel Karasholi

Article

Embracement of the Meridians

„I almost think I am a German poet“, said Damascus born Adel Karasholi, who has been living in Germany for 30 years and now writes his poems in German, in his speech on the reception of the ´Adalbert-von-Chamisso-award´ in 1992 referring to Thomas Mann. In 1959 Karasholi left Syria for Leipzig for political reasons. There he started to write poems in the German language. It became important for him to create a synthesis between his own style and the influence of his new surroundings. "I lived and am still living in two worlds, two cultures which possess different signifying systems. In cultural terms I possess a double identity.“
Adel KarAdel Karasholi was born in 1936 the son of a Kurdish family in Damascus. At the age of 14 his first poems were published and broadcast on Damascus radio. As a young poet he started to study world literature and found a particular interest in the plays of Berthold Brecht. In 1953 he founded a journal for arts and literature which was quickly banned by the authorities of nationalist president Al-Chichakly. Subsequently he worked as a printer, became a literary editor, wrote for Syrian radio and became head of the editorial staff of a students´ radio programme. In the meantime Karasholi was recognised as the young promising poet, his poems were published all over the Arab world. In 1957 he became the youngest member of the renowned, Marxist orientated, Arab Writers Association. In 1959 the association was banned and its members had to flee Syria.

Via Beirut, Munich and West-Berlin Karasholi finally settled in Leipzig in 1961, where he achieved some early success during the so called ´poetry wave´ in East-Germany. In 1968 his collection of Arab poems „Wie Seide in Damaskus“ (Like Silk in Damascus) appeared in German translation, edited by himself. As a recipient of a scholarship he studied Literature and Theatre Arts at the Leipzig „Johannes-R.-Becher-Institute“ where, in 1970,he received his doctorate on the theatre of Brecht. At about the same time he started to write poems in German.

Through his intensive preoccupation with Brecht he gradually arrived at a completely different style of literary expression. "What Brecht had written was about the contrary of what I wrote beforehand, formally as well as rationally. My poems were emotional and rich in metaphors. In Brecht‘s works I encountered a bare, but for me very fascinating poetry.“ It was this contrast which would have a decisive impact on Adel Karasholi’s future work.

It then became important for him to create a synthesis between his own style and the influence of his new surroundings, whereby the outer conditions seemed to lay down the formal shape. "The signals I received from the outer world had to be processed within the same language by which they were expressed.“ In this sense language became a style defining element which is followed by expression, flow and metaphors. Karasholi significantly calls this his "double facedness“, oscillating between the great linguistic tradition of Arab poetry and the rather profane utility poetry of modern German literature. "I lived and am still living in two worlds, two cultures which possess different signifying systems. In a cultural respect I possess a double identity.“

In 1978 he published the book „Umarmung der Meridiane“ (Embracement of the Meridians) which contained poems written only in German. At that time Karasholi seriously considered returning to Syria and tried to formulate an inventory of his experiences in East-Germany.

Adel Karasholi views himself as an ambassador of the Arab world who sees his task as to diminish prejudices and misinterpretations and to convey the cultural achievements of the Arab world to a German audience.

Between 1968 and 1993 he worked as lecturer for the Leipzig University and translated the works of Brecht as well as those of East-German poet friends such as Georg Maurer and Volker Braun into Arabic. In 1985 he received the “Arts award of the City of Leipzig” and in 1992 the “Adalbert-von-Chamisso-award” of the “Bavarian Acadamy of Arts”. In 1992 he took German citizenship and has been working as a freelance writer since 1993. His latest poetry book “Also sprach Abdullah” (Thus spake Abdullah), was published in 1995. Here he presents dialectic observations on his surroundings in the form of ancient Islamic sufism.

Adel Karasholi is the chairman of the Leipzig Writers Association. He lives in Leipzig.
Author: Michael von Assel 

Bio

Adel Karasholi was born in 1936 the son of a Kurdish family in Damascus. At the age of 14 his first poems were published. In 1953 he founded a journal for arts and literature. Subsequently he worked as a printer, became a literary editor, and wrote for the Syrian radio and became head of the editorial staff of a students´ radio programme. In 1957 he became the youngest member of the Arab Writers Association. In 1959 the association was banned. Via Beirut, Munich and West-Berlin Karasholi finally settled in Leipzig in 1961. In 1968 his collection of Arab poems „Wie Seide in Damaskus“ (Like Silk in Damascus). He studied Literature and Theatre Arts at the Leipzig „Johannes-R.-Becher-Institute“ where he received his doctorate degree. At about the same time he started to write poems in German. In 1978 he published the book „Umarmung der Meridiane“ (Embracement of the Meridians) which contained poems written in German. Between 1968 and 1993 he worked as a lecturer for the Leipzig University and translated the works of Brecht as well as those of East-German poet friends into Arabic. In 1985 he received the “Arts award of the City of Leipzig” and in 1992 the “Adalbert-von-Chamisso-award” of the “Bavarian Acadamy of Arts”. In 1992 he took German citizenship and has been working as a freelance writer since 1993. His latest poetry book “Also sprach Abdullah” (Thus Spake Abdullah) appeared in 1995. Adel Karasholi is the chairman of the Leipzig Writers’ Association. He lives in Leipzig.

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

The Gardens of the Islam

(14 December 93 - 04 April 94)

Www

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