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Mahmoud Darwish

The Poet's Art and His Nation

by Khaled Mattawa

Publication Year: 2014

In Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet’s Art and His Nation, Mattawa pays tribute to one of the most celebrated and well-read poets of our era. With detailed knowledge of Arabic verse and a firm grounding in Palestinian history, Mattawa explores the ways in which Darwish’s aesthetics have played a crucial role in shaping and maintaining Palestinian identity and culture through decades of warfare, attrition, exile, and land confiscation. Mattawa chronicles the evolution of his poetry, from a young poet igniting resistance in occupied land to his decades in exile where his work grew in ambition and scope. In doing so, Mattawa reveals Darwish’s verse to be both rooted to its place of longing and to transcend place, as it reaches for the universal and the human.

Published by: Syracuse University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication, About the Author

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pp. ix-xiv

One of the great privileges of my life was having the first Palestinian I met in Palestine be the poet Mahmoud Darwish. It was June 2000, and I had arrived as a Fulbright scholar to Palestine. The American embassy driver taking me to Ramallah...

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pp. xv-xvi

I am indebted to Srinivas Aravamudan, James Applewhite, Miriam Cooke, and Ian Baucom for their valuable insights on this manuscript. Warm gratitude goes to Mary Selden Evans for her enthusiasm for this book and to Deanna McCay for carrying it through to publication. Blessings to Issa Boullata, Steven...

Note on Translations and Transliterations

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pp. xvii-xx

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1. An Introduction: Perennial Tensions

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pp. 1-13

Unlike Rabindranath Tagore, Derek Walcott, Aimee Cesaire, and Leopold Senghor, poets whose colonized nations gained independence in the second half of the twentieth century, Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish had no such fortune to...

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2. The Poet and the National Literature

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pp. 14-29

Darwish was born on March 13, 1942, in the Palestinian village of Birwa, while it was still under British mandate. When he was six years old, the Israeli army occupied and then destroyed Birwa and over 400 other Palestinian villages. Darwish’s family fl ed to Lebanon in 1948, then crossed the border...

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3. Poet under Occupation, 1964-1971

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pp. 30-61

The underlying facts of Darwish’s life as a young man, such as the marginalized and oppressed status of his community, the state of linguistic and cultural siege under which they lived, the intertwining of poetry and politics, and his familiarity...

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4. Poet of National Liberation, 1971-1986

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pp. 62-93

Referring to “A Soldier Dreams of White Lilies” in a 1969 interview with an Israeli magazine, Darwish says “I wish to express pride in my own humanity in that I am the first Arab poet to portray an Israeli soldier, even after the June ’67 War...

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5. To Survive in the World

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pp. 94-127

Having worked within the framework of adab al-iltizam (committed literature), but with rising misgivings about “a poetry that ignites revolution” (Darwish 1979, 184) Darwish faced a new chapter in the Palestinian saga and a new challenge...

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6. Who Am I without Exile?

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pp. 128-153

In the summer of 2000, I visited the city of Ramallah to run a creative-writing workshop for young writers at the Khalil Sakakini Center. This center happened to house Darwish’s offi ce where he edited the journal Al-Karmal. I had very few...

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7. Parting Words

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pp. 154-168

The beginning of the second intifada in 2000, combined with the collapse of the peace process, especially the return of full Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the sieges imposed on the major Palestinian cities, brought a new era of...

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pp. 169-174

Mahmoud Darwish is the last of the twentieth century’s world-famous poets, beginning with Tagore and moving on to Hikmet, Pablo Neruda, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, and Nizar Qabbani—poets who drew both popular acclaim and critical attention across...

References, Index

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pp. 175-196

About the Author, Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780815652731
E-ISBN-10: 0815652739
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815633617
Print-ISBN-10: 0815633610

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2014