- Three poems from Palestine
The poems that follow are from A Bird is not a Stone: an anthology of contemporary Palestinian poetry, edited by Henry Bell and Sarah Irving, and published by Freight Books in 2014. The anthology has been translated by twenty-nine of Scotland’s best writers, and is part of an ongoing project for cultural exchange that seeks to reveal the range and variety of creative voices in contemporary Palestinian poetry. A Bird is Not a Stone offers readers a rare insight into the political, social and emotional landscape of today’s Palestine.
The idea for the anthology was born in the summer of 2012, at a meeting between Murad al-Sudani and Rana Barakat of the House of Poetry in Ramallah and Scottish poets Liz Lochhead, William Letford, Henry King, Henry Bell and Lorna McBean.
The poems in the book – by twenty-five different Palestinian artists – were translated using the ‘bridge’ method, in which Scottish poets worked from literal translations to create new ‘versions’ of the works in English, Scots, Gaelic and Shetlandic. [End Page 107]
About the wee girl
Man, you saw how the soldier shot the wee girlstraight through whatwould have become her left breast?She continues to die, over and over, like aperpetual withering of young green leaves.
I am beholden to her, my sister,my daughter who will never give birth,my wife I can never marry,my Maryam, my sacred one,my mother forever. [End Page 108]
Occupied Ramallah 17.11.06
Strange days cast dour shadows.Dusk. The fragrance of deathOn a windowsill.In the lingering heatan impossible burden weighsdown on eyelids and chest;the throat aches, the spine throbs.
Rose petals all tarnished with foul dustfrom the poisoned world.Black limousines sail past, flyingthe skull and crossbones.The grave yawns open early,nightmares never leave.Death squads. Detention camps.
Somewhere an oudpronounces its sad chords.The invaders smile; Tap their feet. [End Page 109]
All the Viagra in the worldWon’tmake the economystand up. [End Page 110]