October 2, 2023

The Saudi Poet Muhammad Al-Thubaiti

The Saudi Poet-Muhammad Al-Thubaiti

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A Stable Palm in the Land of Saudi Poetic Modernity

There is a rare consensus on the uniqueness of the work of the late Saudi poet Mohammad Al-Thubaiti (1952-2011) and its foundational role in shaping the sensibilities of modern Saudi poetry. Al-Thubaiti, who was named the “master of deserts” after one of his poems, achieved prominence in the mid-1980s, a fertile period that produced the second generation of Saudi verse. It was an era characterised by the rise of literary forums and journals. These fostered a notable critical practice and launched a cultural movement that gained remarkable momentum and presence in the Saudi literary scene. Prior to this, pioneers like Muhammad Hasan, one of the first leading rhythmic poets, had sown the seeds of change, but the 1980s was a time when the traditional basis of Arabic culture started to disintegrate as never before. 

The late writer and critic Ali Al-Dumini argued that literary and poetic modernity in Saudi Arabia was not merely a literary development. He saw it as a comprehensive economic, political, intellectual, philosophical and cultural project that came from the openness of the new literary schools and curriculums, as reflected by the experience of writers like Al-Thubaiti. Other prominent pioneers included Muhammad Al-Ali, Abdullah Al-Saikhan, Ghazi Al-Gosaibi, Mohammed Obaid Al-Harbi, and Ibrahim Al-Hussein, along with yet others who established a new poetic horizon in the landscape of Saudi texts and paved the way for future generations of writers across the Arab world.

Literary and poetic modernity in Saudi Arabia was not merely a literary development. He saw it as a comprehensive economic, political, intellectual, philosophical and cultural project that came from the openness of the new literary schools and curriculums

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