Issa Makhlouf gets award at the Max Jacob Award in Paris


Diana Kahil – On February 13, The Max Jacob Award and the Florence Gould Foundation presented the Max Jacob Award to the two winners of the 2008 edition: French poet and writer Jacques Jouet for his work entitled MRM (POL), and Lebanese poet-writer Issa Makhlouf, from the mountains of Ehden, for his work entitled Letter to two sisters (Lettre à deux soeurs, José Corti).

The Max Jacob literary award was created in 1950. This distinction has been granted to many literary-poetical works (the great Lebanese poet Adonis was one of the winners in 2007 for his work entitled Al-Kitab).

The ceremony of the 2009 edition was held on February 16 at the National Center of Arts in Paris in the presence of members of the jury and many personalities from the world of diplomacy, arts and literature.

Poet and novelist Venus Khoury Ghattas, who has been awarded many literary prizes herself, introduces the poet Issa Makhlouf and his fascinating work. She spoke of his passion for poetry: “Poetry is the opening of the mind, the celebration of fantasy, tolerance, travel and respect for others.”

Letter to two sisters, translated from Arabic by Abdellatif Laâbi, is a collection of works of remarkable finesse, an anthem to female sensitivity. It’s a succession of projection, escape, vision both present and evanescent. Issa Makhlouf’s writing is carnal and discreet all at once.

Issa Makhlouf dedicated his award to Beirut, a city close to his heart: “Beirut remains guided by this light that will never fade away. Literature can still be a place that brings people together, unites them. Poetry is a place where frontiers disappear… the human soul does not change.” said Makhlouf in his acceptance speech. Beirut is closely linked to his life and his writing. The city is thoroughly described in his essay “Beirut or the fascination of death” (La Passion publishers, Paris 1988).

A poet and author in Arabic and French since 1981, Issa Makhlouf holds a doctorate in Social and Cultural Anthropology. He is currently director of information at Radio-Orient. He was Special Advisor for Social and Cultural Affairs to the UN (New York) during the 61st session of the General Assembly (2006-2007).


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