The Kennedy Center

Mohammed Bennis


Mohammed Bennis was born in Fes, Morocco in 1948. He developed an interest in literature, and above all poetry, during his first years at college. In 1971, he founded the avant-garde and influential literary journal Al-Thakafa al-Jadida (New Culture), which he continued publishing until it was banned in 1984.  In 1985, together with a group of university teachers and authors, he started the publishing house Toubqal, now one of the best-regarded literary publishers in Morocco. In 1996, he co-founded the House of Poetry in Morocco, and until 2003 served as its president. Much of his work has been translated and published in French and selected poems translated into other languages, including English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swedish. He has also published four books of essays and translated several books from French into Arabic. Among the numerous awards he has received are Morocco's Grand Award for Creative Writing for his collection The Gift of the Void (1993); Al-Atlas Prize for Translation (Morocco) for the French translation of his collection of poems River Among the Mournful (2000); the city of Calopezzati literature award for Mediterranean Poetry (2006); the Feronia literary prize  for poetry (2007); and Al Oweis Prize for his poetry works (2007). 
Mohammed Bennis was primarily responsible for the establishment in 2000 by UNESCO of an annual World Poetry Day on March 21 to stimulate dialogue among cultures through poetry. Since 1980, Bennis has taught on the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Mohammed V in Rabat, Morocco.
Mohammed Bennis