Abū Rīshah, ʿUmar

▪ Syrian poet and diplomat
born April 10, 1910, ʿAkko, Palestine [now in Israel]
died July 15, 1990, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

      Syrian poet and diplomat, noted for his early poetry, which broke with the traditions of Arab classicism.

      Abū Rīshah attended the University of Damascus in Syria, the American University in Beirut, Lebanon, and the University of Manchester, England. He was an early contributor to the influential Egyptian literary journal Apollo, and from 1940 he worked as a librarian in Aleppo, Syria. In 1949 his increasingly political poems attracted the attention of the new military government, and he was appointed ambassador to Brazil, a position he held until 1953.

      Despite frequent, often violent upheavals in the Syrian government, Abū Rīshah continued to serve in diplomatic posts, including ambassadorships to Argentina (1953–54), India (1954–59), and the United States (1961–64). After his retirement he settled in Saudi Arabia. Abū Rīshah published verse dramas and several volumes of poetry in Arabic, as well as one volume that was translated into English as Roving Along.

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Universalium. 2010.

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