Salah Stétié (1929-2020)
We are saddened by the news of the death of the distinguished French Lebanese writer Salah Stétié in Paris, aged 90.
Born in Beirut, Salah Stétié was a poet, essayist, art critic and diplomat who built bridges between Arabic and European culture in his life and work. After studies in Lebanon and France, he turned his attention towards the problems of contemporary poetry, establishing exchanges and friendships with leading writers such as Giuseppe Ungaretti, Yves Bonnefoy, Pierre Jean Jouve, André Pieyre de Mandiargues, André du Bouchet and David Gascoyne. After launching the cultural weekly L’Orient littéraire in Beirut, he developed two parallel careers, as a writer and as a distinguished diplomat, in Paris, Morocco, The Hague and elsewhere. He served as Lebanon's ambassador to France, and spent much of his life in France. He published over 40 books, and was awarded Le Grand Prix de la Francophonie de l'Académie Française in 1995.
In Stétié’s exquisite, soberly beautiful poems, Western culture merges with Oriental and Arabic traditions. His writing has a swirling metaphysical dimension while never ceasing to root itself in earthy, sensuous experience. His poems evoke a deep, half-questioning, half-serene meditation of all that is ‘hanging on the other side of being’ – ‘the great soft lion’s track in the invisible’ – while still capturing the swarming particularities of our daily presence in the world. His bilingual edition Cold Water Shielded: Selected Poems, translated by Michael Bishop, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2000.
Salah Stétié: born Beirut, 28 December 1929; died, Paris, 19 May 2020
[21 May 2020]