Joumana Haddad

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Joumana Haddad (Arabic جمانة حداد) (born Salloum, in December 1970, Beirut) is a Lebanese poet, translator, journalist and women rights activist.[1] She’s been selected as one of the world’s 100 most powerful Arab women in March 2014 by CEO magazine Middle East (position 62), for her cultural and social activism.[2]


She has already published several poetry collections, widely acclaimed by critics. Her books have been translated to many languages and published abroad.

Speaking seven languages, Haddad is a polyglot and has written books in different languages, and has also published several works of translation, including an anthology of Lebanese modern poetry in Spanish, published in Spain as well as in many Latin American countries, and an anthology of 150 poets who committed suicide in the 20th century.

She interviewed many international writers, such as Umberto Eco, Paul Auster, Jose Saramago, Peter Handke, Elfriede Jelinek, and others.

Joumana Haddad is on the Board[3] of Directors of DOT Lebanon (an NGO targeting the economic empowerment of women in rural areas through ICT/ information and communication technology literacy), as well as on the Board[4] of Advisors of MARCH Lebanon (an NGO fighting censorship and raising awareness about the right of free expression)

She’s been the administrator of the prestigious Arab literary prize IPAF[5] or the Arab Booker Prize, from 2007 till 2011.

Joumana Haddad has been awarded the Arab Press Prize in 2006.

In 2009, she co-wrote and acted in a movie by Lebanese filmmaker Jocelyne Saab ("What's going on?"[6]). She also had an appearance in a documentary by filmmaker Nasri Hajjaj, about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.

Joumana Haddad on the set of "What's going on?" in June 2009

In October 2009, she has been chosen as one of the 39 most interesting Arab writers under 39.[7]

In November 2009, she won the International Prize North South for poetry, of the Pescarabruzzo Foundation in Italy.[8] The winner of the novel prize was Austrian writer Peter Handke.

In February 2010, she won the Blue Metropolis Al Majidi Ibn Dhaher Arab Literary Prize[9]

In August 2010, she received the Rodolfo Gentili Prize in Porto Recanati, Italy.[10]

In November 2012, she received the Cutuli Prize for journalism in Catania, Italy.[11]

In July 2013, she was appointed honorary ambassador for culture and human rights for the city of Naples in the Mediterranean by the mayor of Naples Luigi de Magistris.[12]

In February 2014, she was awarded the “Career Poetry Prize” by the Archicultura Foundation in Acquiterme, Italy.[13]

As of February 2012, Joumana also teaches creative writing at the Lebanese American University in Beirut.[14]

In addition, she is a performer and a collage artist.

Haddad's magazine is the feature of a 2013 film by Amanda Homsi-Ottosson, Jasad & The Queen of Contradictions, a Women Make Movies release.[15]


Bibliography in Arabic[edit]

  • Invitation to a secret feast, poetry, (2008)
  • Two hands to the abyss, poetry, (2000)
  • I did not sin enough, selected poems, (2003)
  • Lilith's Return, poetry, (2004)
  • The panther hidden at the base of her shoulders, selected poems, (2006)
  • In the company of the fire thieves, Conversations with international writers, (2006)
  • Death will come and it will have your eyes, Anthology of 150 poets who committed suicide, (2007)
  • Bad habits, selected poems, (2007)
  • Mirrors of the passers by, poetry, (2008)
  • Geology of the I, poetry, (2012)[16]
Joumana Haddad on august 2007.JPG

Bibliography and translations of her books in English[edit]

  • Invitation to a Secret Feast, poetry, 2008, Tupelo Press, Vermont, USA.
  • Madinah, city stories from the Middle East, anthology, 2008, "Comma Press", Manchester, UK.[17]
  • I Killed Scheherazade, Essay, 2010, “Saqi Books”, London, UK.[18] The book has been translated to French, Italian, Spanish, Danish, Portuguese, German, Dutch, Croatian, Norwegian, Romanian and Arabic.[19]
  • Superman is an Arab, Essay, 2012, “Westbourne Press”, London, UK.[20] The book has been translated to French, Italian, Spanish, Croatian and Arabic.

Bibliography in Italian[edit]

  • Le sette vite di Luca, Children's literature, 2011, Mondadori Junior, Milan, Italy.[21]

Bibliography in Spanish[edit]

  • Allí donde el río se incendia, Antología poética, 2005, Ediciones De Aquí, Málaga, Espana, 2006, Fundación Editorial El Perro y la Rana, Caracas, Venezuela.

Bibliography in French[edit]

  • Le temps d'un rêve, Poésie, (1995)
  • Les amants ne devraient porter que des mocassins, littérature érotique, 2010, Editions Humus.[22]

Translations into other languages[edit]

Some of Joumana Haddad's books
  • Damit ich abreisen kann, 2005, Lisan Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.
  • Cuando me hice fruta, 2006, Monte Ávila Editores, Caracas, Venezuela.
  • El retorno de Lilith, 2007, Editorial Praxis, Mexico, Mexico/ 2010, Diputacion Provincial de Malaga, Mar Remoto, Spain.[23]
  • Le retour de Lilith, 2007, Editions L’Inventaire, Paris, France/ 2011, Editions Actes Sud, Paris, France.
  • Liliths Wiederkehr, 2008, Verlag Hans Schiler, Berlin, Germany.
  • Adrenalina, 2009, "Edizioni del Leone", Venice, Italy.[24]
  • Il ritorno di Lilith, 2010, "Edizioni l'Asino d'Oro", Rome, Italy.[25]
  • Lilits återkomst, 2010, Bokförlaget Tranan, Stockholm, Sweden.[26]
  • Espejos de las fugaces, 2010, "Vaso Roto ediciones", Mexico.[27]
  • Miroirs des passantes dans le songe, 2010, « Al Dante », Paris, France.[28]
  • Las siete vidas de Luca, Literatura infantil, 2011, Vaso Roto, México, México.[29]
  • Los amantes deberían llevar solo mocasines, Literatura erótica, 2011, Vaso Roto, México, México.[30]

About her[edit]

"When I sit before you, stranger,
I know how much time you'll need
to bury the distance between us.
You are at the peak of your intelligence
and I am at the peak of my banquet.
You are deliberating how to begin flirting with me,
and I,
under the curtain of my seriousness,
am already done devouring you."

"A poetry that is at once sensual and cerebral, anarchic and self contained"

Marilyn Hacker, American poet

"A complex poetry, sometimes ferocious, sometimes tender, always moving".

David Harsent, British poet

"An exceptional poetic voice that renders the transformations of freedom’s writing".

—Enrique Hernández De Jesús, Venezuelan poet and artist

"A breathtaking poetry, that goes to the extreme"

Tahar Ben Jelloun, Moroccan poet and novelist

"A sumptuous and alluring voice, carefully drawing the reader in, before unveiling soulful insight and wisdom"

—Jeffrey Levine, American publisher

"A poet who tumbles down all stereotyped images of the Arab woman"

—Valentina Colombo, Italian orientalist

"She unfurls in her poems the tentacular word of the woman-hydra, giving way to the voice of a strong and magnificent woman"

—Brigitte Ouvry-Vial, French publisher


"Joumana Haddad is a revolutionary, this book is the manifesto. Read it or be left behind."

Rabih Alameddine, Lebanese American novelist

"A very courageous and illuminating book about women in the Arab world. It opens our eyes, destroys our prejudices and is also very entertaining."

Mario Vargas Llosa, Nobel Prize for literature 2010

"Joumana Haddad is an authentic writer. She belongs to the rare species of intellectuals that cannot be intimidated. This book is a lesson of courage for all those who aspire, try and fight in order to go beyond their own limits and chains."

Roberto Saviano, Italian writer

"In this courageous book, Joumana Haddad breaks down the taboo of the silent absent Arab woman. Scheherazade has to die to be able to tell her own story: that is, to become a human being."

Elfriede Jelinek, Nobel Prize for literature 2004

Personal life[edit]

Haddad was born into a conservative Christian Maronite family. Her mother is of Armenian extraction. At the age of 19 she married a hotelier, whose conservative views made him uncomfortable with Haddad's work. The marriage lasted for a decade. He converted to the Syriac Orthodox Church in order to be granted a divorce from Haddad. She is still on amicable terms with her first husband. She has two sons from her first marriage. Haddad has stated that the main motive behind her marriage was getting away from her strict parental environment. She has remarried to fellow poet who is 20 years her senior. Currently she lives in Beirut with her two sons. She is a staunch atheist and critic of organised religion.[31][32][33][34]

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