Najet Adouani

Foto: Simone Ahrend, sah-photo

The Tunisian poet, writer and journalist Najet Adouani is a critic and author who actively supports freedom, peace and women’s rights. She was born in southern Tunisia in 1956 and began to write as a child. She was influenced by her early experiences of a violent totalitarian Tunisian regime, which determined the political nature of her subsequent work. While getting her degree in journalism, she wrote for diverse oppositional newspapers. Her work as a reporter kept getting her into hot water, again and again. Soon she was blacklisted. Even after the Tunisian Revolution she still fought for freedom of expression and women’s rights. She wrote for various papers and a radio program. Continually, she was threatened and forced to stop her work for the radio. She was not allowed to publish and had to drop all her writing projects. Still, Najet Adouani and her family were persecuted. In October 2012, she fled to Germany. Unfortunately, she could not take her three adult sons into exile with her. At first, she found refuge in Weimar, thanks to a Friedl Dicker fellowship of the City. From April 2013 until April 2016, she was involved in the Writers in Exile Program of the German PEN Center. Najet Adouani has published six volumes of poetry and a collection of short stories in Arabic; 15 more of her manuscripts await publication. Her poems have been translated into English, French, Spanish and Hindi. She has taken part in numerous Arab and international poetry festivals and has been a member of the Tunisian Writers’ Association since 1982. In 2010, she won the Feminine Poetry Prize. Five of her poems have appeared for the first time in German translation in the PEN anthology Fremde Heimat – Texte aus dem Exil  (Foreign Homeland – Texts from Exile). Her poems deal, in a very personal way, with bereavement, loss and violent experiences. 2015 Adouani’s Meerwüste (Lotos Werkstatt), a German-Arabic  volume of poetry, was published in Berlin. In 2017, several poems by Adouani were published in the German PEN anthology Zuflucht in Deutschland. Texte verfolgter Autoren (S. Fischer).