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21 Mar. 2019 -
11:00 - 12:30
Korte Spinhuissteeg
Conference Room
By invitation

Exile and Poetry

NIAS Seminar

Writer-in-residence Ghayath Almadhoun will discuss his fifth book of poetry in Arabic, on exile and the roots of his dreams.

About the Seminar

Exile is not a place, it is a spacetime. What is exile for you, is a homeland for someone else. The place which is an exile for you on those days can be a tourist destination on other days.

If you try to describe a book of poems that describes exile, the borders between private and public will disappear, the poems become a mirror for life.

This is exactly what happened to me while I’m working on my poems in Arabic. My poems are reflecting my life, my life is here, here means Europe, Europe is the place of exile, at least in this period of time.


I am Digging inside the exile to find the roots of my dream. A Palestinian without a homeland, who finds himself again forced to be away from the Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. Now the dream becomes a complex dream, I’m dreaming to go back to Syria so I can dream to go back to Palestine.

My new project is to let my poems see the paradox of this new life through diaspora morals, the relation with the other who became you, and you who began to be the other, when you began to understand that you are not Syrian anymore, and you will never be 100% European, you are in a parallel life, this is your new home, the parallel.

An extensive text of life, love in the wartime, memories that became home, and exile as a background of the new wave of literature.


This project which is in many ways totally different from the ones of my colleagues that are academics. Writing a poetry book is starting something without knowing where this project will end. Since writing poetry is an unpredictable process, as unpredictable as the conditions I write about, exile and belonging.

During this seminar I will tell you about the writing process, how I work, and how I have worked. Considering myself a perfectionist, I would love to say as Gustave Flaubert said in his writing, and many other writers and poets too: “I rework my poems a lot. Sometimes I feel myself being more an editor than a poet”.

Ghayath Almadhoun and Anne Vegter on their work of poetry at the Dutch televisionprogramme "Hier is... Adriaan van Dis" (excerpt)


About NIAS Seminars

NIAS Seminars are aimed to stimulate scientific cross-pollination within the NIAS academic community. Attendance is by invitation only.