Prominent Lebanese writer and poet, Joseph Harb, dies

Published Monday, February 10, 2014

Prominent Lebanese writer and poet Joseph Harb passed away late Sunday night after a long battle with an undisclosed illness. He was 70-years-old.

Harb was well-known for writing the lyrics of many songs for Lebanese diva Fairouz.

One of the most important names of musical poetry in the Arab world and the first in Lebanon, the great Joseph Harb left the world last night.

Harb was born on 1944 in the town of al-Maamrieh in the Zahrani region of south Lebanon, and he spent most of his youth between the cities of Jbeil, Batroun, and Beirut.

He started his education at the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts school in Jbeil first, and then the Antoine Institute. In his early twenties, he began teaching in Dekwaneh while studying Law and Arts at the university.

Once he graduated, he opened up a private library and began practicing law. During the 1960s, he produced a large number of poems, stories, and philosophical articles. In 1960, he published his first book, "Virgin Structures." Then in 1966, he entered into Lebanese radio, by becoming a presenter for the program, "With the Sunset."

He wrote a number of screenplays for television shows, including, "Ash and Salt", "And the End of Time," "The Arabs Said," and more.

He met Ziad Rahbani and Fairouz in 1976, and soon after the Rahbani brothers wanted to use his poetry for their songs that they wanted to present in a show in Jordan. Fairouz sang more than 16 songs based off his poetry, including: "The Bride's Bracelet," "For Beirut," "When at the Door," "And so we forget."

In 1998 and 2004, he was elected as the head of the Lebanese Writers' Union. In 2006, he published, "The Inkwell," which is considered to be the biggest poetry collection in the modern Arab history. The book is composed of 1,750 pages and printed by Dar al-Rees.

Throughout his life, he has received a number of awards and accolades in Lebanon and the region.

(Al-Akhbar)

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