The Kennedy Center

Qassim Haddad



Biography

Qassim Haddad is a Bahraini poet born in 1948 whose extraordinary collection of work is well known throughout the Arab world. An avid reader, Haddad did not finish his secondary education and is largely self-educated. He rose to fame both as a poet and as a revolutionary, writing much verse on political subjects dealing with freedom and progress. In 1969, he co-founded the Bahraini Writers' Union and was editor in chief of the literary journal Kalimat. His first collection was published in 1970 and, to date, he has published more than 16 books in Beirut, London, Bahrain, Morocco, and Kuwait. In 1994, Haddad created the most important Internet forum for Arabic poetry with the website www.jehat.com. His book Akhbar Majnun wa-Layla (The Anecdotes of Majnun and Layla), co-published in London and Bahrain in 1996, was illustrated by Iraqi artist Dia' Al-Azzawi. Haddad's book of poetry, Blue Impossible, was accompanied by the photography of the late Saudi photographer Saleh al-Azzaz.  In 2007, he created a controversial adaptation of Arabic classic Layla and Majnun with composer Marcel Khalifé. Fundamentalist members of Bahraini parliament claimed it was a violation of Islamic morals, but Haddad responded powerfully and was supported by Arab intellectuals. Haddad has taken part in numerous national, regional, and international cultural conferences and poetry festivals, both in Europe and throughout the Arab world. In his distinguished career, Haddad has received the Prize of the Lebanese Cultural Forum (Paris), and was the awarded the 2002 Al-Owais Prize for Poetry, which recognized Haddad's "creativity, diversity, form and substance, visions and ideas, modernity and vitality of his language, humanitarian inclinations, and hostility to all types of suppression."
Qassim Haddad