Bannis, Mohammed (1948–)

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Bannis, Mohammed

Mohammed Bannis (Bennis) is a Moroccan poet and critic.


Bannis was born in 1948 in Fez, Morocco. He received his Ph.D. in modern Arabic poetry from the University of Rabat in 1989, and since 1980 has been a professor of Arabic literature at Muhammad V University in Rabat. He is the founding director of the House of Poetry, established in Casablanca in 1996.


The famous Syrian poet Adonis (ali ahmad sa'id) first published Bannis's poetry in 1969, following correspondence between the two of them. Bannis since has published many books of literary criticism and poetry, as well as an Arabic translation of abdel kebir khatibi's La Blessure du Nom Propre (al-Ism al-Arabi al-Jarih [1980]). An avant-garde poet, Bannis's interests extend from poetics to graphic arts, and his writings are deeply rooted in Moroccan life and culture.

Bannis is closely involved in the political life of Morocco, and favors the involvement of the individual in changing society; otherwise, the written word is equivalent to a dead word, as he suggests in his poem "Belonging to a New Family." He is among the group of poets who changed the structure of the poem and presented a new interpretation of reality: dynamic and optimistic. His collection of poetry, Hibat al-Faragh (1992; Gift of leisure), clearly reflects these structural and thematic changes. Another experimental technique is employed in Mawasim al-Sharq (1986; Festivals of the east), in which he combines poetic prose with free verse. The poems adopt the shapes of the ideas they embody. In Kitab al-Hubb (1995; Book of love) Bannis delves into the world of dreams to understand the emotions of love, whereas in al-Makan al-Wathaniyy (1996; Pagan place) the poet seeks a close connection with nature.

Bannis founded the journal al-Thaqafa al-Jadida in 1974. It was an important journal until it was banned following political disturbances in 1984. In 1985 Bannis joined with others in establishing the publishing house Dar Tuqbal for poetry. Bannis also is a translator. In particular, he has translated the French-language works of fellow Moroccan abdelwahhab meddeb into Arabic, who in turn has translated Bannis's Arabic language poetry into French.


Bannis's poetry is well regarded. A collection of his poems, translated into French as Le don du vide (1992), led to his being awarded the Moroccan literary award "Grand prix du livre" in 1993. He is considered, along with Ahmed Mejjati, as being the avant-garde poet who did the most to advance Moroccan poetry and establish modern traditions for it.


Still productive, Bannis will be remembered as one of Morocco's great avant-garde poets.


Name: Mohammed Bannis (Bennis)

Birth: 1948, Fez, Morocco

Nationality: Moroccan

Education: Ph.D. (modern Arabic poetry), University of Rabat, 1989


  • 1969: First poetry published
  • 1974: Establishes journal al-Thaqafa al-Jadida
  • 1980: Professor of Arabic literature at Muhammad V University, Rabat
  • 1985: Helps establish Dar Tuqbal publishing house
  • 1996: House of Poetry established in Casablanca


Jayyusi, Salma Khadra. Modern Arabic Poetry. New York: Columbia University Press, 1987.

"Mohammed Bennis." Internationales Literaturfestival Berlin 2007. Available from

                                                    Aida A. Bamia

                              updated by Michael R. Fischbach

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Bannis, Mohammed (1948–)

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