Prominent Egyptian poet celebrates birthday, new book

Mohammed Saad , Friday 11 Apr 2014

Poet Abdel-Rahman El-Abnudi, who celebrated the new work at a party full of media and government luminaries, called for the release of imprisoned activist Ahmed Douma

Ahram Commemorating  El-Abnudi
AL-Ahram commemorating El-Abnudi's birthday and book (Photo: Ayman Hafez)

On Thursday one of Egypt’s most famous poets, Abdel-Rahman El-Abnudi, celebrated the launch of his latest poetry collection entitled Morabaat El-Abnudi (The Squares of Abnudi) with a collection of literary stars.

The ceremony was hosted by Al-Ahram institution – which publishes Ahram Online – and was attended by former editor-in-chief of Al-Ahram daily, Mohammed Hassanien Heikal, who wrote the foreword for the new book.
The event, which also marked El-Abnudi’s 76th birthday, was attended by prominent novelists Bahaa Taher, Gamal El-Ghitany, Mohammed El-Makhzangi, screenwriter Waheed Hamed, and a number of other literary figures.
Prominent government figures including culture minister Saber Arab, presidential advisor Mostafa Hegazy, and presidential media aide Ahmed El-Muslimani, were also in attendance.

El-Abnudi, a highly acclaimed poet who writes in colloquial Egyptian Arabic, made a rare visit to Cairo from his home in Ismailia for the occasion, bringing his wife Nehal Kamal, who was formerly head of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.
His new collection comprises fragments that have been published in a number of different newspapers in the past three years.
El-Abnudi thanked Heikal for his foreword, and commented on his love of poetry.  “Many of you think that Heikal is just a political writer with a dry language but the fact is that he keeps two hundred times more poems than any of us,” he said.
The poet also praised Heikal’s wisdom describing him as “the great builder, who puts his life’s experience in simple words and gives it to us.”

El-Abnudi then recited one of his poems and dedicated it to imprisoned activist Ahmed Douma, asking President Adly Mansour to pardon him.
Douma, along with a number of other activists, is serving time for holding “an illegal protest.”
The poet directed his words to the officials at the gathering: “Tell the president that Douma has nothing to do with this. Give (Mansour) my greetings, and more greetings if he pardons him. He is sick and should be released, and he has done nothing.”

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, 90, left Ahram newspaper forty years ago after disagreements with then-president Anwar El-Sadat. On this occasion, he was invited to visit the Ahram museum to see some artefacts associated with Selim and Beshara Takla, the founders of the institution, and to skim a copy of the first issue of Al-Ahram from 1875.

Heikal, who led Al-Ahram from 1957 to 1974, did not give a speech at the event, but other prominent intellectuals did. El-Abnudi, who is known for his sense of humour and his bluntness, gave a speech in which he shared his memories of his contemporaries Bahaa Taher and Gamal El-Ghitany.

Ahmed El-Naggar, the current CEO of Al-Ahram, expressed his pleasure in hosting the event to commemorate “a poet who has effectively con tribute to shaping Egyptian sentiment over the past five decades, and represents part of the conscience of this nation.”

El-Ghitany praised El-Abnudi, and thanked Heikal for starting the tradition of commemorating literary figures within Al-Ahram. He recalled the time when Heikal wanted to celebrate Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz back in 1961. The writer -- who would go on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature -- asked to meet famous singer Umm Kulthoum, and Heikal managed to pull it off.

Heikal on the historical office of Ahram founders (Photo: Mohammed Saad)
Heikal on the historical office of Ahram founders (Photo: Mohammed Saad)

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