Laureate of The Palestine Prize for Literature 2021
“The greatest struggle and the greatest triumph of Palestinian writers lies in their refusal to become humanity’s cringing victims.”
Salma Khadra Jayyusi
Date of Birth: April 16, 1923
Place of Birth: Salt, Jordan
The greatest struggle and the greatest triumph of Palestinian writers lies in their refusal to become humanity’s cringing victims.” —Salma Khadra Jayyusi
Salma Khadra Jayyusi is a poet, critic, and translator. Born to a Palestinian father Subhi al-Khadra and a Lebanese mother, Anisa Sleem, she grew up in a patriotic home which deeply affected her lifelong commitment to the dissemination of Arabic culture. She graduated with a BS in Arabic and English Literature from the AUB in Beirut in 1945, and in 1970 completed her PhD. from SOAS, University of London.
After her Ph.D she taught at various universities in Sudan, Algeria and the USA. Her two volume study Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry, (based on her Ph.D dissertation) was published by Brill, Leiden, in 1977, and thereafter became an essential reference work on modern Arabic poetry.
One of the pioneers of the free verse movement in the Arab world during the 1950s/60s, she played an active role in the debates on Arabic poetry, innovation, modernity and tradition, as well as commitment and non-commitment in literature. She published in the prominent literary journals of the time, al–Adāb, Shi‘r, al-Adīb, Hiwā, Mawāqef and al-‘Arabi, amongst others, and was for some time the Editor of the influential literary page of the al-Anwar newspaper in Lebanon. She published her first poetry anthology, Al-‘Awda min al-Nab‘ al-Halim in 1960 which was highly received in Arab literary circles .
She was invited by MESA for a lecture tour of 22 universities in the USA and Canada, 1973, where she realized that readers in the West were not acquainted with Arabic intellectual tradition and literature.
She founded PROTA, (Project of Translation from the Arabic), in 1980. PROTA’s focus was on literary production both modern and classical. This project produced 9 major anthologies and over 30 single author works of fiction, autobiography, and poetry, as well folktales
She was invited in 1985 by the Nobel Academy to submit a review and assessment of Arab writers for consideration for the Nobel Prize. When Naguib Mahfouz won the Nobel prize for Literature in 1988 she received a special invitation from the Nobel Academy to attend the Nobel Award ceremony in Stockholm.
She founded East-West Nexus, 1990. The focus was on transmission of the best in Arabic thought and civilizational history to the English-speaking world, and the production of in-depth studies and research about Arab and Muslim thought and civilization. This project produced four major edited volumes, (with two more forthcoming), as well as several smaller volumes of study by various authors, including several on Jerusalem.
She organized an international conference in Cordoba, 1991, on the legacy of al-Andalus to mark the 500th anniversary of the Fall of Granada. The conference was opened by King Juan Carlos of Spain, in the presence of the Agha Khan, and she gave the opening lecture. The conference launched the two volume commemorative studies on The Legacy of Muslim Spain that she edited, with contributions from the major scholars on the topic.
In September the 1994 Arabic language journal, al–Katiba, published in London, devoted a 41 page special section dedicated to her work and achievements
She has received many fellowships. In 1987-88 she received a Rockefeller Fellowship at the University of Michigan to write on modernity in Arabic poetry. In 1994-95 she was invited for a one year Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Berlin (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin). And in 1999-2000 she was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship to research Palestinian life in the 20th century.
She has received multiple awards for her contributions to Arabic culture, including the Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Cultural Personality of the Year, the Takreem Award for Cultural Excellence, King Abdullah b. Abd al-Aziz Prize for Translation for her Distinguished Work, the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award for Cultural and Scientific Achievement, the Edward Said Award of the Organization of Arab American Writers for Career Excellence, and the Palestinian Ministry of Culture’s Palestine Prize for Literature, Arts and Humanities for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Service. (See Awards section)
Al-‘Awda min al-Nab‘ al-Hālim (Return from the Dreamy Fountain). (Arabic) – an anthology of poems. Dar al-Adāb, Beirut, 1960.
Trends and Movements in Modern Arabic Poetry, 2 vols. Brill, Leiden 1977 (Arabic translation Center for Arab Unity Studies, 2001)
Safawna ma‘ al-Dahr (We Are Grown Purer with Time): an anthology of poems. Al-Ahliyya Publishers in cooperation with the Union of Palestinian Writers, Amman, 2021.
Edited Books: (40 plus publications under the imprint of PROTA or East-West Nexus)
Modern Arabic Poetry: an Anthology, Columbia University Press, 1987, With Introduction. 92 Poets, 725 pages.
The Literature of Modern Arabia: An Anthology, Kegan Paul International, 1988, 102 authors, 560 pages.
Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, Columbia University Press, 1992. With Introduction, 103 authors, 755 pages.
The Legacy of Muslim Spain, 2 vols. Columbia University Press, 1992. With Introduction. Arabic edition, Center for Arab Unity Studies, 1998. 45 chapters by 42 world scholars, 1100 pages.
— with Roger Allen, Modern Arabic Drama: An Anthology, Indiana University Press, 1995, With Introduction.
Jerusalem , Thrice Loved Land, Islamic Research Institute, Islamabad, 2001
Short Arabic Plays: An Anthology, Interlink Publications, 2002. With Introduction
Modern Arabic Fiction: An Anthology, Columbia University Press, 2005. With Introduction, 187 story selections, 140 authors, 1080 pages.
—-with Zafar Ishaq Ansari, My Jerusalem: Essays, Reminiscences, Poems. Olive Branch Press, 2005, With Introduction.
——-with Mansour al Hazimi and Ezzat Khatab: Beyond the Dunes: Anthology of Modern Saudi Literature. IB Tauris, 2006, 96 authors, 528 pages.
Classical Arabic Stories, Columbia University Press, 2006. With Introduction.
Tales of Juha: Classic Arabic Humor, Interlink Publications, 2006.
Human Rights in Arabic Thought: A Reader. IB Tauris 2008. With Introduction, 22 authors, 670 pages.
—-in collaboration with Renata Holod, Attilio Petruccioli, and Andre Raymond. The City in the Islamic World, 2 vols. Brill, Leiden 2008, 1449 pages.
Winner of the Choice Award for Outstanding Academic Title, 2010.
The Legacy of Muslim Sicily, MBRF, Dubai, forthcoming.
Studies in Classical Arabic Narratives, Brill, forthcoming.
The Secret Life of Saeed: The Pessoptimist, by Emile Habiby. With Trevor Le Gassick. Zed Books, 1985.
Justine and Balthazar, the first two novels of Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet.
Achievement in American Poetry, 1900–1950, Louise Bogan. 1960
The Humanity of Man, Ralph Barton Perry. 1961
Poetry and Experience, Archibald MacLeish . 1962
(More than 100 articles in literary and cultural criticism published in various journals and books, both in the Arab world and outside)
“Arabic Poetry in the Post-Classical Age.” In the volume on Arabic Literature in the Post-Classical Period, edited by Roger Allen and D. S. Richards. Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
“Arab Women and the Age: Horizons and Visions.” In Alif: Journal of Contemporary Poetics, (19), 8. American University of Cairo, 1996.
“Elements of Resistance in the Classical Arabic Poem.” In Qasida Poetry in Islamic Asia and Africa, edited by Stefan Sperl and Christpher Shackle. Brill, 1996.
“The Arab Intellectual’s Creative Output.” Festschrift for Constantine Zuraik, Center for Arab Unity Studies, Beirut 1995. (In Arabic).
“Freedom and Compulsion: Seventies.” In Journal of Arabic Literature. Vol. 26, No 1 / 2 1995. Brill.
“Culture: A Global View.” In Yearbook of the Institute of Advanced Study Berlin-Zu Berlin (Wissenshcaftskolleg), 1994-95.
“The Arab Laureate and the Road to Nobel.” In Naguib Mahfouz: From Regional Fame to Global Recognition. Edited by Michael and Adnan Haidar. Syracuse University Press. 1993.
“Modernist Poetry in Arabic.” In volume on Modern Arabic Literature, edited by M. M. Badawi. Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, Cambridge University Press, 1993.
“Andalusi Poetry: The Golden Age.” In The Legacy of Muslim Spain, edited by S.K. Jayyusi, Columbia University Press, 1992.
“Nature Poetry in al-Andalus and the Rise of Ibn Khafaja.” The Legacy of Muslim Spain, edited by S.K. Jayyusi, Columbia University Press, 1992.
Woman and the Image of Woman in Nazik Mala’ika’s Work.” In the commemorative Nazik Mala’ika: Studies in the Poet and the Poetry, edited by Abdullah Al-Mahanna, Kuwait, 1985
“Umayyad Poetry.” In volume on Arabic Literature to the End of the Umayyad Period, edited by A. F. L. Beeston, T. M. Johnstone, R. B. Serjeant, G. R. Smith, Cambridge History of Arabic Literature, Cambridge University Press, 1983.
“The Unity of Vision and Stance in Arab Culture.” In Qadaya ‘Arabiyya (Arab Issues). Beirut 1979. (In Arabic)
“The Migration of Arab Intellectuals: Analysis of Causes.” Al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi (The Arab Future), Beirut, July 1978. (In Arabic).
“Two Kinds of Hero in Contemporary Arabic Literature.” Mundus Artium, Pittsburg Vol. X, Number 1, 1977
“Contemporary Arabic Poetry: Vision and Stance.” In Studies in Modern Arabic Literature, edited by Robin Ostle, Liverpool University Press, 1975.
“Place and Time in the Poetry of Al-Shabbi.” Al-Fikr (Thought), Tunis, 1975. (In Arabic).
“Commitment, Non-Commitment and the Image of the Age in Modern Arabic Poetry,” Majallat Kulliyyat Al-Adab, (Journal of the Faculty of Literature), vol.1, 1973. (In Arabic).
“Short Journey into the Maze of Arab Existence,” Al-Adāb, Beirut 1966. (In Arabic).
2020 Sheikh Zayed Book Award for Cultural Personality of the Year.
2019 Palestine Presidential Award for Achievement for her Outstanding Contributions in her field.
2010 The Ibn Battuta Appreciation Award, Arab Center for Geographic Literature, Doha, Qatar.
2010 The Takreem Award for Cultural Excellence.
2010 Award of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture and the Committee on Women’s Affairs for her Distinguished Services to Palestinian and Feminist Cultures.
2009 King Abdullah b. Abd al-Aziz Prize for Translation for her Distinguished Work on the Dissemination in English of Arabic Literature and Culture through her Project of Translation, PROTA.
2009 Award of the Ahliyya University, Amman, for her work in Introducing Arabic Culture to the World.
2008 Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Award for Cultural and Scientific Achievement.
2007 Award of the Ministry of Culture in Algeria for her Outstanding Services to Cultural Dissemination.
2007 Award of the University of Bethlehem for her Great Services to Palestinian Culture.
2006 Award of the Higher Council for Culture in Cairo for her Great Efforts in Disseminating Arabic Culture in the World.
2005 The Edward Said Award of the Organization of Arab American Writers (RAWI), New York: For Career Excellence.
2002 Award of Jerusalem Day Committee, Jordan, For her Services to Jerusalem.
2002 Award of the National Council for Culture, Literature and Art in Kuwait, for Distinguished Service to Arabic Culture.
1998 Awarded the Palestine Prize for Literature, Arts and Humanities by the Palestinian Ministry of Culture for Outstanding Achievement in Cultural Service.
1996 Award of the Arab American University Graduates (the AAUG), California, for Outstanding Service to Arabic Culture.
1996 Award of the Kamal Jumblatt Association for Service to Arab Culture in the West, Valencia, Venezuela.
1992 Award of the Association of Palestinian Women, Detroit for Distinguished Cultural Service
1991 Award of the Organization of Arab American Women for her “Distinguished Contribution to Arabic Culture in America.”
1990 The Jerusalem Award for Culture, Arts and Literature given by the Palestinian Department of Culture for her Distinguished Literary and Cultural Contribution, Cairo.
“Translation is the entry into the world, the preservation of our dignity and our place in history, the illumination of feats and accomplishments, the enriching of human heritage, the vibrant magnetic presence. It is the search for friendship and human intimacy, the humanization of experience, the representation of a triumphant life, and the portrayal of tragedies and suffering where suffering persists. It is the affirmation of the universality of human experience, and our way to making friends, illuminating the path for those who care for us, restoring right, narrating truths, and rectifying ill-intentioned propaganda. It is the most effective means of addressing the world with our humanity, offering our creativity as we have known it across history and removing the distortions that others have circulated about us. I am talking here of translation into world languages.”
“The greatest struggle and the greatest triumph of Palestinian writers lies in their refusal to become humanity’s cringing victims.”
“We need the courage of those who believe, and their deep faith, but there is no faith without practice, no practice without courage, and no courage without the confidence in oneself, and in the pride of the venture into the uncharted that is within reach.”
“There has never been an age like ours in its global recognition of the possibility for freedom, liberty, and human dignity, and in its determination to defy all forms of aggression.”