Khalid al-Maaly – Iraq and Germany

Khalid al-Maaly, born in as-Samawa, Iraq in 1956 is a leading Arab writer, poet and publisher. He has published seven books of poetry in German, as well as in Arabic, and translated other Arab poets into German. From Cologne, Germany, where he currently lives, he wrote along with Mona Naggar in German a “Lexicon of Arab Authors in the 19th and 20th Centuries.” More recently, he gained attention for an essay in the Berliner Zeitung on the dual nature of Arab intellectuals, in which he suggests that many leading thinkers display differing attitudes on issues like human rights and foreign policy before Western and domestic audiences. (wikipedia).

His poems on geocities.


Khalid al-Maaly – Iraq and Germany

The story of a daring publisher.

He says about himself: … First of all I would like to establish this: I am someone who loves to read. I am also a writer. And as an Arabic reader and writer I have soon found out that many works of the great thinkers of Europe have not been translated into Arabic and, if they have been, not from the original language. This is also the case with Nietzsche. Thus Spoke Zarathustra was, for a long time, the only book by Nietzsche that was translated into Arabic. This is really astonishing! And this translation of 1937, for example, was done from French. As it became clear to me, I began to translate and have translated those books that I myself have read and liked. Already early on Nietzsche counted as one of my favorite authors. Therefore it was obvious for me to translate his work into Arabic some day. Now this day has arrived. And of course I see myself in my activity as a publisher also as a mediator of culture, as a translator of cultures that begin to touch, cross over into, and intertwine with one another in the act of trans-lation” … (nietzsche

Three poems, (from 21 Iraqi Poets).

He writes: … The Arab intellectual behaves like a despotic father. No internal family matter may be exposed to the outside world; regardless of what the reality may be, a façade of unbroken unity must be maintained. This is especially evident with respect to such matters as relations with Israel, the scandal over the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, the attacks of 9/11, the Danish cartoons of Muhammad, or the recent war in Lebanon. In private talks with such people, one hears opinions that are radically different from what they publish in the newspapers the next day. It is as if the views propounded in the Arab media are not based on independent thinking, but formulated as opportunistic statements for public consumption … (full text).

Philosophy on stage#2.

And he says: “I didn’t form the company (the Al-Kamel publishing house) for Germany’s sake, but simply because I suddenly found myself living here. Then came the war of 1982, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon. That was the deciding factor for me; after this invasion, we – the young generation of Arabic writers – seemed no longer to have any prospect of publishing our work in the Arab countries. At that time, I just wanted to bring out the texts and poems that I’d written myself, as well as a few Arabic books that can’t normally be published, both classics and modern works. So in 1983, I started up, with one little Arabic typewriter” … (full interview text).

Eine andere Möglichkeit, mich auszudrücken.

Find him and his publications on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Blog-search.

De dichter, vertaler en publicist Khalid Al-Maaly vluchtte in 1979 uit het Irak van Saddam Hussein. Na een kort verblijf in Frankrijk reisde hij naar Duitsland waar hij in 1983 als politiek vluchteling werd toegelaten. Hij richtte in Köln de uitgeverij Al-Kamel op, dat gespecialiseerd is in de Arabische literatuur. Naast de publicatie van zijn proza en poëzie, vertaald hij de meest bekende Arabische dichters in het Duits en Duitse dichters in het Arabisch. (waterstad).

Books having received translation grants: … for Khalid al-Maaly (ed.) (Iraq) Zeitgenössische irakische Lyrik (Anthology of Iraqi poetry, tr. Arabic Khalid al-Maaly & Heribert Becker) Gutke Verlag, Köln/Frankfurt 2004.

He says also about himself: “I was born in Iraq, in a small village called Samaua. My parents are Bedouins who roamed around in the desert with sheep and goats. My family settled, for the first time, in 1967, when I was eleven years old. In 1964, when we were half nomadic and half settled, I went to school belatedly. When I learned how to read and write there, it became clear to me that I wanted to become a poet. I wanted to write. I began to read Baudelaire, but there were only awful Arabic translations. Later I also read Arabic authors; for example, the mystics. Finally I was so advanced as to be able to read them fluently. Since, at the beginning, reading them was extremely difficult for me. At home we had neither electricity nor chairs nor water nor light nor oil lamps. The more books I read then, the more pressing was the desire kindled in me to see something of this other foreign world from which I read. I wanted to become someone else, be part of this other world, wanted to get to know new books, other books and to see, say and express things which I have not yet said in this way or could not either say so in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. My mutiny was first directed against my family, as it is common with young people. But then I started to turn myself ever more against the state, against the ruling power in Iraq, against religion and the idea of nation. My world of books finally became ever more the “true world” in which I lived. Whereas the world in which I “really” lived became ever more the “apparent world” for me, a sheer world of appearance from which I wanted to escape”. (full long interview text).

Rückkehr aus dem Krieg – Neue Irakische Lyrik, Arabisch-Deutsche Lyrikanthologie.

The lyricist and publisher Khalid Al-Maaly, Al-Kamel Verlag (Cologne/Beirut/Baghdad), has worked in cooperation with Hans Schiler for many years. Khalid Al-Maaly is the editor of our series of modern Arabic literature in German translation: novels, narratives, poetry (mostly edited in both original and German language) from Morocco, Lebanon and Iraq. The Arabic books published by the Al-Kamel Verlag itself are distributed in the German speaking area through the Verlag Hans Schiler. (Arabic books).


BANIPAL, Magazine of Modern Arab Literature;

Die Regenhymne und andere Gedichte, Lyrik arabisch und deutsch;

Arab Biographies on Geocities;

Arab books and articles on questia;

Lightning Strikes our Age;

Excerpts from “Valley of Ashes“;

From the heart of the Arab world, four young writers on tour (photo gallery);

Israel – Poetry International Web;

Obituary: Sargon Boulus, an Iraqi Poet.

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