Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925. She is a celebrated writer, essayist, and playwright, and is the author of more than twenty books in all these disciplines. Her work as a whole is a faithful record of the times and places she has lived in Beirut, Paris, and in the San Francisco Bay Area. At least eighteen works by Adnan have been published in English. They include Sitt Marie Rose (Post-Apollo Press, 1982); The Arab Apocalypse (Post-Apollo Press, 1989); Sea and Fog (Nightboat Books, 2012), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry and the California Book Award for Poetry; Premonition (Kelsey Street Press, 2014); Surge (Nightboat Books, 2018); Time (Nightboat Books, 2019), winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Best Translated Book Award; and most recently Shifting the Silence (Nightboat Books, 2020). Her paintings, described by New York Times art critic Roberta Smith as “stubbornly radiant abstractions,” have been widely exhibited. Spanning media and genres, Adnan’s writings have led to numerous collaborations with artists and musicians, including the French part of CIVIL warS, a multi-language opera by American stage director Robert Wilson, performed in Lyon and Bobigny in 1985.
In 2014 she was named Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, France’s highest cultural honor, by the French Government. She died in Paris, in 2021.