By Yara Al Kaweesh, Yasmine Tawfik, Yara El Said
CAIRO, Egypt- Dr. Adam Talib, assistant professor of Classical Arabic Literature in
the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations (ARIC), gave a lecture called "Al-
Mutanabbi In His Own Words," on Monday in the Rare Books and Special
Collections Library of the American University in Cairo.
Talib started his lecture by introducing Al-Mutanabbi himself. He quoted
that he is "the most famous poet of Arabic literature in about 1400 years, he's much
more impressive than Shakespeare, so he's a big deal." He expressed that the reason
why he chose to talk about him is because how he is to many Iraqis a national and a
Further in the lecture, Talib mentions the strong relationship between Al-
Mutanabbi and Saif Al Dawla. Al-Mutanabbi had a powerful dual rule during the
ruling of Saif Al Dawla, and was the official representative of that kingdom.
Talib also mentioned that Al-Mutanabbi received a lot of criticism for his
writings. People criticized his tendency of being paid for his poems. People also felt
that he did not write enough poems about love and praising the Prophet, yet focused
on praising the ruler. Therefore,Talib claims that people misunderstand the role
When Talib concluded his lecture, he received a great round of applause.
Some people started asking questions. Their main interest was why he chose to talk
about Al-Mutanabbi. Talib explained that it was because he is a pan-Arab figure
and that there is a larger exhibition called "Al Mutannabi Street Starts Here" where
he was responsible to talk about the person behind the street's name. This lecture
was part of "Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here" exhibition, which is part of an
international tour by a San Francisco-based project. The Rare Books and Special
Collections Library, AUC, is hosting this exhibition. The exhibition began on 5
March 2014 and will end on 30 August 2014, from Sundays to Thursdays at 10 a.m.
to 3:30 p.m.
Nadine Awadalla, an AUC student, who attended the lecture said "it was
really informative, the professor gave us a couple of examples of Al-Mutanabbi's
poetry and he talked about his influences." So the lecture seemed a success.