Recent Events

SQCC Poetry and Prose Lecture with Prof. Kevin Blankinship

Wednesday, April 3, 2019 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Poetry and Prose Lecture Series

Title: Dust’s Embrace: Al-Ma`arri and the Art of Dying in Classical Arabic Literature

Prof. Kevin Blankinship

Wednesday, 3 April, 2019 from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Sultan Qaboos Cultural Center, 1100 16th Street NW, Washington, DC 20036


Click on the link here to RSVP or send an email to: with subject line: "Al-Ma'arri Lecture - Your First + Last Name"

Summary:  "Watch your step! It seems to me that the earth is made of nothing but bodies."

With this macabre yet absorbing line, the poet and alleged heretic Abu l-`Ala’ al-Ma`arri (d. 1058) reminds readers of the inevitable: everything in this world passes away. His poetry — especially Luzum ma la yalzam (Self-Imposed Necessity) — draws on the themes of zuhd, ascetic literature, such as the shortness of life and straitness of the grave. Yet he is also inspired by extravagant conceits of badi`, erudite allusions to law and astrology, and elite courtly praise. By bringing these elements together, he moves away from earlier zuhd poets like `Adi ibn Zayd and Abu l-`Atahiya, yet revitalizes their genre in an era when pious verse became grafted into Sufism. Al-Ma`arri thus bears a family resemblance to his zuhd forebears, insofar as that term implies overall detachment of the heart from perishable things
, a detachment which can paradoxically lead to greater love for God and compassion for the living.

Bio: Kevin Blankinship is Assistant Professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University. He teaches Arabic language and literature, Islam, and the Qur'an, while in terms of research, he studies classical Arabic literature. His current book project is about the blind poet al-Ma`arri and the literary history of zuhd. His work has benefited from grants by the Fulbright-Hays Program, Southern Denmark University, and the University of Utah. In addition to scholarship, Kevin reviews books and comments on Middle Eastern culture for general audiences, writes original English language poetry, and works as a freelance translator.

​Refreshments: Omani coffee will be served with dates.

1100 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
United States
Posted By: N/A - Friday, 22 March, 2019 at 10:43 AM