Journal of an Ordinary Grief

Overview

"Darwish is to be read with urgency, in the night, when nothing else moves but his lines."
-The Village Voice

"Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance," asserts Darwish. Both voice of the Palestinian people and one of the most transcendent poets of his generation, Mahmoud Darwish also wrote several remarkable volumes of autobiographical essays over the course of his life. First published in Beirut in 1973, these probing essays ask vital questions about the existentially complex realities the Palestinians in ...

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Journal of an Ordinary Grief

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Overview

"Darwish is to be read with urgency, in the night, when nothing else moves but his lines."
-The Village Voice

"Every beautiful poem is an act of resistance," asserts Darwish. Both voice of the Palestinian people and one of the most transcendent poets of his generation, Mahmoud Darwish also wrote several remarkable volumes of autobiographical essays over the course of his life. First published in Beirut in 1973, these probing essays ask vital questions about the existentially complex realities the Palestinians in Israel face and the ambiguity of Darwish's own identity as an Israeli Palestinian. They call upon myth, memory, and language to delve into the poet's experience of house arrest, his encounters with Israeli interrogators, and the periods he spent in prison. Meditative, lyrical, rhythmic, Darwish gives absence a vital presence in these linked essays. Journal is a moving and intimate account of the loss of homeland and, for many, of life inside the porous walls of occupation––no ordinary grief.

Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008) was one of the most acclaimed poets in the Arab world. His twenty books of poetry include Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? A River Dies of Thirst, Mural, The Bed of the Stranger, and In the Presence of Absence (forthcoming from Archipelago Books). In 2001 Darwish was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

Winner of the 2011 PEN Translation Prize

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"There is no finer Arab poet for English readers to start with."
-Times Literary Supplement

"Darwish's poetry is an epic effort to transform the lyrics of loss into the indefinitely postponed drama of return."
-Edward Said

"Very impressive. . . . Journal of an Ordinary Grief helps us understand the roots of Darwish's great poetry."
-Juan Goytisolo

"Consider this book an essential 'primer for the gradual understanding' of Palestine and its people. This collection of essays is one of the most effective, useful, and deeply moving witnessings of a historical tragedy I have read. The writing has an unsurpassed freshness, power, and awe exactly because it is poetry that happens to have justified margins. Darwish hungers to understand why such calamities have befallen his people and has a profound need for sharing - and succeeds brilliantly at both of these. This book should be on the reading list of every school in this country."
-Pierre Joris

"Mahmoud Darwish is one of the greatest poets of our time. In his poetry Palestine becomes the map of the human soul."
-Elias Khoury

Lori Soderlind
The collection is an important anchor in the work of a poet celebrated for providing a national identity to displaced Palestinians…The work is challenging, both for its nontraditional style and for the emotional charge of the politics it addresses, but Darwish's artistry provides greater context for a conflict that to this day floods citizens of the world with grief.
—The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780982624647
  • Publisher: Steerforth Press
  • Publication date: 11/5/2010
  • Pages: 175
  • Sales rank: 1,382,183
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 7.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008) was born in the village of al-Birwa, in the Galilee, Palestine. He became a refugee at age seven. He worked as a journalist and editor in Haifa and left to study in Moscow in 1970. His exilic journey took him to Cairo, Beirut, Tunis, Paris, Amman, and Ramallah, where he settled in 1995. He is one of the most celebrated and revered poets in the Arab world. He published more than thirty books, and his poetry has been translated into thirty-five languages. Darwish was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by France in 1993, was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize in 2001, the Prince Claus Awardin 2004, and the Cairo Prize for Arabic Poetry in 2007.

Since the appearance of Speak, Bird, Speak Again: Palestinian Arab Folktales in 1989, Ibrahim Muhawi has devoted himself to the study and translation of Palestinian and Arabic folklore and literature. He is co-editor of Literature and Nation in the Middle East and translator of Darwish’s Memory for Forgetfulness and Zakaria Tamer’s Breaking Knees. He is currently working on a book on Mahmoud Darwish.

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Read an Excerpt

—What are you doing, father?

—I’m searching for my heart, which fell away that night.

—Do you think you’ll find it here?

—Where else am I going to find it? I bend to the ground and pick it up piece by piece just as the women of the fellahin pick up olives in October, one olive at a time.

—But you’re picking up pebbles!

—Doing that is a good exercise for memory and perception. Who knows? Maybe these pebbles are petrified pieces of my heart.

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