4 years
24 poems
12 Western poets
12 Middle Eastern poets
Multiple languages

What is the New Divan?

As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe considered his own West-Eastern Divan incomplete, the Gingko Library will publish a New Divan in 2019. New Divan will be an anthology of 24 poems – twelve by poets of the MENA region and twelve from the West – inspired by the culture of the Other. Building on the rich tradition of poets who have sought inspiration from, and responded to, other cultures, and specifically to their poetry, New Divan will demonstrate how the other can be a source of inspiration rather than fear. Each poem will appear in New Divan in English and, where the poem was not written in English, both in the language of composition and with a poetic translation in English alongside it.


A board of advisors, headed by Joachim Sartorius and including the Syrian poet Adonis, the Iranian author Mahmoud Dowlatabadi and the English poet Michael Schmidt, will invite 24 poets to submit their work before September 2016. The advisory board will then nominate translators, poets themselves, who, with the aid of a literal, scholarly translation, will use the original poem as the basis for a new, poetic interpretation.

‘a highly auspicious and commendable initiative … I hope that this initiative will, albeit slowly, facilitate and promote the process of peace and mutual understanding among peoples around the globe.’
Mahmoud Dowlatabadi


December 2015 The advisory board identify and approach 24 poets

September 2016 Poets submit their work to the Advisory Board who nominate translators, both scholarly as well as poetical.

December 2017 Translators submit their work to the Advisory Board. Translation workshops are held.

September 2019 A New Divan, hosted by the Barenboim-Said Akademie in Berlin, brings together the poets, their translators and scholars who contributed to the New Divan and the volume is published.

Video of the launch of the New Divan project
featuring Mahmoud Dowlatabadi, Joachim Sartorius, Narguess Farzad and Barbara Haus Schwepcke

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