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Journal of an Ordinary Grief

by Mahmoud Darwish Ibrahim Muhawi

"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.

Memory for Forgetfulness

by Mahmoud Darwish Sinan Antoon Ibrahim Muhawi

One of the Arab world's greatest poets uses the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the shelling of Beirut as the setting for this sequence of prose poems. Mahmoud Darwish vividly recreates the sights and sounds of a city under terrible siege. As fighter jets scream overhead, he explores the war-ravaged streets of Beirut on August 6th (Hiroshima Day). Memory for Forgetfulness is an extended reflection on the invasion and its political and historical dimensions. It is also a journey into personal and collective memory. What is the meaning of exile? What is the role of the writer in time of war? What is the relationship of writing (memory) to history (forgetfulness)? In raising these questions, Darwish implicitly connects writing, homeland, meaning, and resistance in an ironic, condensed work that combines wit with rage. Ibrahim Muhawi's translation beautifully renders Darwish's testament to the heroism of a people under siege, and to Palestinian creativity and continuity. Sinan Antoon's foreword, written expressly for this edition, sets Darwish's work in the context of changes in the Middle East in the past thirty years.

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