Adonis Diaries

“Pen association” in New York of 1916: By Lebanese and Syrians authors

Posted on: February 8, 2012

“Pen association” (Al Rabitat al Kalamiyah) in New York of 1916: By Lebanese and Syrians authors

In 1916, a group of immigrants, Lebanese and Syrian born authors, formed the “Pen association” (Al Rabitat al Kalamiyah).  The first announcing article or the New York Declaration was published in April in the weekly Al Saeh (The Tourist) owned by the member Amin Meshrek from Lebanon sea-town of Betroun.

The 5 initial constituents were: Amin Rihani (from Frikeh and the first who suggested this association), Jibran Khalil Jibran (from Bshereh and the author of The Prophet), Amin Meshrek (from Betroun), Abdel Masih Haddad (from Homs), and Nassib Arida (from Homs, and owner of the weekly Al Founoun (The Arts).

Another weekly was published in New York called “Mir2at al Gharb” (The mirror of the western civilization).

The author Mikhaeel Nuaimeh would join this group in 1920 and be elected its chief executing officer.

Nuaimeh tried hard in his works, especially Sab3oun (Seventy), to coin the year 1920 as the begining for the Pen association, a way of giving himself most of the credit. Rihani frequently published in The Tourist, followed by Jibran and Nuaimeh after 1920.

Rihani returned to Lebanon after WWI and visited the Near East countries, and pushed forward to Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and met with monarchs, leaders, Emirs in order to gather intelligence on the state of affairs in the Arab World and social structure. Rihani published at least three books of his visits and the personalities he met.

Amin Meshrek also immigrated to Equador before 1920 (Latin America to make a living, and was run over by a car)

Jibran died in New York in the 1940’s, at the age of barely 50.

Nuaima died of old age in Baskenta (about 90 year-old).

What was the purpose of this pen association?

First, reminding the world of the tragedy befalling the people in Syria, Lebanon and Palestine: The people in Lebanon experienced the worst famine and hundred of thousands sold their properties for a loaf of bread because of locusts and the Ottoman (Turkish) troops hoarding all the foodstuff. They tried hard to ship foodstuff to the Near East and coaxed the immigrants to contribute in alleviating the plight of their families back home.

Second, discussing and figuring out the state of the people after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire and the mechanisms for gaining independence. They formed the Council of Liberation (from the Ottoman Empire domination)

Third, how to separate religion from State affairs

Four, how the countries should be unified and under which political framework…

Fifth, rekindling the Arabic civilization and language…

Six, warning against the Balfour (England foreign minister) promises to settling Jews in Palestine…

This famous New York-based pen association played a wonderful role in transforming the Arabic language from the Koran and Islam ready sentences to a modern civic language that describes and explains the common people reflections…

This association was competing with other pen associations based in Egypt and also lead by Near Eastern authors and thinkers…

That was about a century ago.

Lebanon is a pseudo State run by 18 religious sects, Syria is in upheaval trying to change the Bashar Assad dictatorship, Palestine is occupied by the apartheid Zionist State of Israel…

The Arab Spring has swept many countries in the Middle-East, and the Moslem extremists are winning in skewered “democratic election laws”, and the Women are back to fighting harder to retain whatever rights they acquired in the last century…

Note: More details on that period

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February 2012

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