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October 8, 2004

An Evening of Arabic Poetry on Oct. 21

A program of readings from classical and modern Arabic poetry will be presented at the Library of Congress at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 21. The program is presented under the auspices of the Gertrude Clarke Whittall Poetry and Literature Fund and will take place in the Montpelier Room, on the sixth floor of the Library's James Madison, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Tickets are not required.

Organized by Clarissa Burt, a former Rockefeller Fellow in the Library's John W. Kluge Center, "An Evening of Arabic Poetry" will feature readings by Irfan Shahid, Hussein Kadhim, Ikram Masmoudi and by Burt herself.

The evening will begin with a brief introduction explaining the role of Arabic poetry across the ages, from pre-Islamic times to the present day. Two classical poems will be recited in Arabic, and two readers will then offer brief introductions to selections of modern Arabic poetry, explaining who the poets are and the circumstances of the poems' composition. Readers will give a brief synopsis of each poem's content in English before reciting it in Arabic. Printed English translations of the poems will be available for the audience.

Shahid, an eminent scholar and the Oman Professor of Arabic and Islamic Literature at Georgetown University since 1982, is originally from Palestine. He received his bachelor's degree in classics and Greco-Roman history from Oxford University and his doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from Princeton University.

Kadhim teaches Arabic language and literature at Dartmouth College. Born in Iraq, he has a bachelor's degree from Al-Mustansiriyyah University, Baghdad. He earned two master's degrees: one from Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and one in Near Eastern languages and cultures from the University of Indiana in Bloomington. He also earned his doctorate in Near Eastern languages at Indiana.

Masmoudi, born in Tunisia, studied at the University Stendhal in Grenoble, France, where she earned a doctorate in textual linguistics. She has taught modern Arabic at the University of Provence Aix-Marseille and is now a lecturer in Arabic at Princeton University's Near Eastern Studies Department.

Burt received her doctorate from the University of Chicago. Until recently she was assistant professor of Arabic literature at the American University in Cairo; she is now on the faculty of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, where she is establishing an Arabic language and culture program.

The poetry and literature reading programs at the Library of Congress are supported by a 1951 gift from Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who wanted to bring the appreciation of good literature to a larger audience. For more information on the Library's poetry programs, visit the Poetry and Literature Center's Web site at

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to stimulate and energize interaction with policymakers in Washington. The Kluge Center houses five senior Kluge Chairs, other senior-level chairs and nearly 25 postdoctoral fellows. For more information about any of the fellowships and programs offered by the center, visit its Web site at

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PR 04-176
ISSN 0731-3527

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