Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) Syrian poet, diplomat, and women’s rights activist, serving in Syrian missions in Beirut, Cairo, Istanbul, Madrid, and London, and as UAR Vice-Secretary at their Chinese embassy. His sister’s suicide under pressure when she refused to marry a man she did not love made a profound impression on Qabbani, who was 15 years old at the time. He began writing poetry the following year. “Love in the Arab world is like a prisoner, and I want to set [it] free … The relationships between men and women in our society are not healthy.” He has been both revered and reviled in the Middle East for his erotic romantic verse, and his biting political poems. His work, often banned by authoritarian regimes in Muslim countries, even gained some popularity in Israel, in spite of his anti-Israeli stance, because he also criticized Arab policies and military failures. And lovers from all over the world have found his romantic poetry moving and inspirational. He died at age 75 of a heart attack. Qabbani has often been called Syria’s National Poet.
To read Nizar Qabbani’s poem “Every Time I Kiss You” click:
Every Time I Kiss You
by Nizar Qabbani
Every time I kiss you
After a long separation
I am putting a hurried love letter
In a red mailbox.