al-Khāl, Yūsuf (1917–1987) By Badini, Dounia
Yūsuf al-Khāl was a Lebanese poet and writer, born in 1917 in Syria. He graduated in 1944 from the Philosophy Department at the American University of Beirut where he taught Arabic literature. In 1948 he went to America where he became involved with renewal literary circles. In 1955, he went back to Lebanon with a well-conceived purpose of announcing a second Arab poetic renaissance. In 1957, he founded the magazine Shi‘r (Poetry), which ran until 1964, then from 1967 to 1970. Shi‘r was the most professional avant-garde Arabic magazine dedicated to poetry. Through it, he took pains to support new experimental poetry that aimed to change the poetic language, making it closer to spoken language in terms of the lexicon, structures, and music; to make modernity accessible to the Arab reader through translations of foreign experiences; to renew the themes of poetry by expressing enriching personal experiences. Although he published several works (a novel, a play, poetry, essays, and translations), he is recognized above all as the leader of the modernist Shi‘r movement.