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50 years
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Manuel Forcano (Spain)

Manuel Forcano
Manuel Forcano

Manuel Forcano has a PhD in Semitic Languages from the University of Barcelona. Having pursued Hebrew Studies in Israel, Arabic and Islamic Studies in Syria and Egypt, he lectured in Hebrew and Aramaic at the University of Barcelona (1996-2004). He has participated in the European Union MANUMED Project (2000-2004) to catalogue Arabic and Syriac manuscripts from countries on the southern rim of the Mediterranean, with active missions in Aleppo (Syria).

He has translated from Hebrew to Catalan the work of various modern Israeli poets such as Pinhas Sadeh, Ronny Someck and Yehuda Amichai, as well as the novel The Same Sea (2002) by Amos Oz. He has also translated Ibn Battuta's Travels (2005) from Arabic to Catalan, in conjunction with Margarida Castells. He published the book of historical and literary essays The Crusades seen by the Jews (2007), History of Jewish Catalonia (2010), The Catalan Jews (2014) and 50 Jewish sites in Catalonia (2017). He has also translated and edited in Catalan the travels of Marco Polo, The Description of the World (2009), the cabalistic treatise The Book of Creation (2012), the legend of The Golem by Yudl Rosenberg (2013), and The Jewish Anti-Gospels (2017)

His own works of poetry include eight published books, noteworthy among which are Corint (2000), Com un persa (2001) (Like A Persian), winner of the 2002 Tivoli European Prize for best European poet under 36 years of age, El tren de Bagdad (2004) (The Baghdad Train), Llei d'estrangeria (2008) (Immigration Law), Estàtues sense cap (2013) (Headless Statues) and Ciència exacta (2014) (Exact Science).

Indebted to poets like K. Kavafis and Yehuda Amichai, the latter of whom he has translated, he frequently presents historical or cultural motifs from Antiquity, which contrast with the vulgarity of the present. A further contrast is between the pervasive erudition of his poems and his simplicity of tone and forms. Love and nostalgia for a glorious past are the two great themes in Forcano's poetry. He has received many prizes for his poetic work.

He was the vice-President of the Catalan Council of Arts (2009-2011), the Manager Director of Private Foundation International Early Music Centre Jordi Savall (2004-2015), and Director of the Institut Ramon Llull for the international promotion of Catalan Language and Culture (2016-2018).