So What: New and Selected Poems 1973-2005

Overview

“Taha Muhammad Ali speaks with an emotional forthrightness. . . . He has developed a style that seems both ancient and new, deceptively simple and movingly direct.”—The Washington Post

Taha Muhammad Ali is a revered Palestinian poet whose work is driven by vivid imagination, disarming humor, and unflinching honesty. As a boy he was exiled from his hometown, but rather than turning to a protest poetry of black-and-white slogans to convey this loss, he has created art of the ...

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Overview

“Taha Muhammad Ali speaks with an emotional forthrightness. . . . He has developed a style that seems both ancient and new, deceptively simple and movingly direct.”—The Washington Post

Taha Muhammad Ali is a revered Palestinian poet whose work is driven by vivid imagination, disarming humor, and unflinching honesty. As a boy he was exiled from his hometown, but rather than turning to a protest poetry of black-and-white slogans to convey this loss, he has created art of the highest order. His poems portray experiences that range from catastrophe to splendor, each preserving an essential human dignity.

Neither music
fame nor wealth,
not even poetry itself,
could provide consolation
for life’s brevity,
or the fact that King Lear
is a mere eighty pages long, and comes to an end,
and for the thought that one might suffer greatly
on account of a rebellious child.

So What will include Arabic en face and introductions by co-translators Gabriel Levin and Peter Cole. Muhammad Ali will be one of the international poets featured at the 2006 Dodge Poetry Festival, and he will embark on a reading tour of the United States in the fall of 2006.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Despite his spare output and lack of formal education, Ali has become one of the most widely admired Palestinian poets. Composed in a synthetic Arabic that draws both on classical language and colloquial speech, Ali's vivid free verse conveys the moody resilience of his personality in treatments of the national grief of occupation, exile and the Palestinian Arabs' "endless migration." Often informed by symbols and structures from Arab tradition, Ali's ironies stand alongside easily grasped, even universal, versions of lament: "We did not know/ at the moment of parting/ that it was a moment of parting." Expanding an earlier rendition of Ali's works, the multinational translating team clearly transmits Ali's humor, his way with a tale and his deep roots in "fatigue, hunger, vagrancy,/ debts and addiction to ruin." Composed between the early 1970s and now, Ali's poems are timely and affecting; his 1984 masterpiece, "The Falcon," portrays the poet as a migratory bird indebted less to his companions than to his own "sadness... so much greater than I am." A moving, richly poetic story, in which all the deprivations of Ali's verse coalesce in a child's desire for a pair of shoes, closes the collection. (Oct.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Expanding on Ali's previous collection, Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story, this bilingual book of verse will bring a wider readership to a major Palestinian poet. As befits a poet from a war-torn land, Ali portrays bloodshed and violence in much of his work. "Thrombosis in the Veins of Petroleum," for instance, alchemizes oil into a living thing that won't die: "I'll remain-/ a blood stain/ the size of a cloud/ on the shirt of this world!" Although he occasionally settles for clich d language, Ali's verse abounds with striking metaphors. Home and land are revered by a writer torn from both: "with all my heart I would have agreed,/ to swallow a rope longer than Sabha's/ if only/ we could have stayed in our village." At his best, Ali guides us through the darkness of war and loss: "Poetry hides/ somewhere/ behind the night of words/ behind the clouds of hearing." The title of the collection comes from the one short story in the book, which concerns a barefoot boy gifted with a pair of shoes. This finely crafted and lyrically intense collection is recommended for larger public and all academic libraries.-Doris Lynch, Monroe Cty. P.L., Bloomington, IN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556592454
  • Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
  • Publication date: 9/15/2006
  • Language: Arabic
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 280
  • Sales rank: 1,153,392
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Taha Muhammad Ali is a leading poet in Palestinian. Born in 1931 in Galilee, he fled to Lebanon during the 1948 war. A year later he slipped across the border with his family and settled in Nazareth. The longtime owner of a souvenir shop, Ali is self-taught in contemporary literature and is a favorite reader at international literature festivals. Peter Cole has published two collections of poety and several translations from medieval and contemporary Hebrew. His Selected Poems of Shmuel HaNagid (Princeton) received the MLA Translation Award.
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Table of Contents

On Taha Muhammad Ali
Abd el-Hadi fights a superpower 3
Warning 7
Postoperative complications following the extraction of memory 9
Thrombosis in the veins of petroleum 13
The fourth Qasida 19
Exodus 31
Crack in the skull 35
Ambergris 41
The evening wine of aged sorrow 47
Fooling the killers 55
There was no farewell 61
Three Qasidas 63
Never mind 69
Maybe 73
The falcon 77
Sabha's rope 101
The bell at forty : the destruction of a village 107
Empty words 109
Twigs 115
The height of love 119
Meeting at an airport 123
Abd el-Hadi the fool 129
This is the steel mihrab about to fall and that's my mother, before she ceased to mourn 137
Balance 141
Fellah 143
Sahbr and Zeynab ascend 145
Michelle 149
No, Papa, please! 153
Where 155
The place itself, or I hope you can't digest it 157
Between sleep and waking 161
Nothing more 165
The kid goats of Jamil 169
Tea and sleep 175
So what (a story) 179
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