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Kevin Blankinship

An Elegy by al-Ma`arri

[Al-Ma`arri's decapitated statue in Ma`arrat al-Nu`man. Image from]

[“This is my father's crime against me, which I myself committed against none” (hādha janāhu abī ʿalayya wa-mā janaytu ʿalā aḥadin). So declares the tomb in Maʿarrat al-Nuʿmān, Syria, of pre-modern poet and iconoclast Abuʾl-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (d. 1058 AD). The implication is as somber as the plaque it adorns: al-Maʿarrī's very birth was a tragedy, and his own childlessness a service to humanity. Such pessimism about mortality pervades al-Maʿarrī's vast and difficult writings, ...

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Kevin Blankinship



Kevin Blankinship is a Ph.D. candidate in Classical Arabic Literature and Qur’anic Studies at the University of Chicago. His dissertation project tackles issues of authorship and readership by focusing on commentaries written by medieval Arab Syrian poet Abuʾl-ʿAlāʾ al-Maʿarrī (d. 1058 AD) explaining his own poetry. Kevin also works as a freelance Arabic translator.