Gaza Writes Back
August 19, 2014 4:40 PM   Subscribe

Mahmoud Darwish once wrote, of Gaza, “We are unfair to her when we search for her poems.”

We are certainly unfair when we scrabble anywhere for poems, searching for aesthetic pleasure in others’ suffering. But here, poetry seems to have welled up from the need to speak, to create, to defy silence: Most of the Arabic writing about Gaza that came out of the last month was first-person reportage on events. But some of it mixed together with other elements to create otherworldly or impassioned prose. 6 of the Most Beautiful Writings from and for Gaza.

Gaza is not the most beautiful of cities.

Her coast is not bluer than those of other Arab cities.

Her oranges are not the best in the Mediterranean.

Gaza is not the richest of cities.

(Fish and oranges and sand and tents forsaken by the winds, smuggled goods and hands for hire.)

And Gaza is not the most polished of cities, or the largest. But she is equivalent to the history of a nation, because she is the most repulsive among us in the eyes of the enemy – the poorest, the most desperate, and the most ferocious. Because she is a nightmare. Because she is oranges that explode, children without a childhood, aged men without an old age, and women without desire. Because she is all that, she is the most beautiful among us, the purest, the richest, and most worthy of love. ‘Silence for the Sake of Gaza,’ Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish at the Poetry Foundation.

An accessible look at Darwish’s life and work, at long last

Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Young Writers in Gaza, Palestine, edited by Refaat Alareer is a compelling collection of short stories from fifteen young writers in Gaza, members of a generation that has suffered immensely under Israel’s siege and blockade. Twitter, Facebook.

Gaza Writes Back: Short Stories from Gaza, Palestine Blog for the book, the U.S. tour, and more!

These stories are acts of resistance and defiance, proclaiming the endurance of Palestinians and the continuing resilience and creativity of their culture in the face of ongoing obstacles and attempts to silence them.

Whether tackling the tragedy that surrounds missile strikes and home raids, or the everyday indignities encountered by Palestinian refugees, Gaza Writes Back brings to life the real issues that the people of Gaza face. One prominent theme in many of the stories is the value placed on the wisdom of parents and grandparents. A sense of longing pervades the book, as the characters in the stories reveal desires ranging from the mundane to the complex—including, in several of the stories, a strong yearning to return to the characters’ long-cherished family homes and properties after many decades in exile from them. Social differences within Gaza are also sensitively explored. A few stories are especially difficult—but critical—to digest , for the vividness with which they depict the experiences of victims of Israeli military strikes and confront the legacy of violence and occupation, particularly on young people.
‘Gaza Writes Back’—New Book Published by Palestinian Writers

The 2014 Palestinian Festival of Literature: Since 2008 an annual literary festival has been the center of our activities and we have brought dozens of influential literary figures from the UK, US and Arab world to teach workshops and perform in free public events. We partner with dozens of Palestinian organizations – cultural and educational – to produce an immersive, collaborative festival every year.We work to reaffirm, in the words of Edward Said, ‘the power of culture over the culture of power’

"Land, akin to language, is inherited," Mahmoud Darwish once said. In the occupied territories, however, language is pillaged, appropriated, violated, and surrounded by barbed wire, just like the land. Language, like land, under assault in Palestine

Can poetry create a space where constructive encounters might take place, ones which shift the power balance? And what does it mean for such an encounter if one of the parties is dead, unable to negotiate their role for themselves? Collaborating with Mahmoud Darwish without his consent

In Performance: Undeniable Voices, Palestinian Agency and Marginalized Narratives

Palestine-a borderless landscape of people, memory, conflict, resilience, and vision-this month locates itself in Words Without Borders, as contemporary Palestinian writers address and establish the multiple senses of place. Word without borders: November 2006: Writing Palestine

Nearby, Iraq and Syria's Poetic Borders: There are few places, in fact, endowed with as much cosmological and political significance as Iraq or Syria in the medieval Arabic literary and intellectual tradition. Even as they came under the sway of different rulers and were pulled apart into benighted principalities or swallowed up by vast global empires, the territories retained their elemental status as core geographical components of the sublunary world.

The Ottoman History Podcast: Palestine and Its Fragments: Historians face numerous challenges when attempting to excavate the Palestinian past. Palestinians are often erased from the landscape and their voices are wiped from the historical record. This is especially true with regards to the Ottoman past, which despite its immediate relevance for understanding the present, has been largely ignored by scholars. In this episode, Beshara Doumani discusses his experiences in rediscovering Ottoman Palestine and some of the unique challenges facing historians seeking to write the history of Palestinians.

And today, Beloved Palestinian Poet Samih al-Qasim Dies at 75.
posted by whyareyouatriangle (5 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't had time yet to follow many links so no specific comment, just : great post. I like well researched posts with lots of links.
Thank you.
posted by llc at 8:19 PM on August 19, 2014 [1 favorite]

>We are unfair to her when we search for her poems. Let us not disfigure the beauty of Gaza.

>The most beautiful thing in her is that she is free of poetry at a time when the rest of us tried to gain victory with poems.

Pretty language, but literally makes no sense to me at all. I have no idea what she's trying to say. Elegance without eloquence.
posted by kcds at 5:33 AM on August 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had the absolute honor of walking in Darwish's funeral procession in Ramallah in 2008. I was overcome by the people's love for him - it was amazing to see a people so utterly engaged with a single voice. I brought home one of the commemorative posters that were plastered everywhere throughout the city.

Thank you for this thorough and interesting post.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 7:42 AM on August 20, 2014 [3 favorites]

> Pretty language, but literally makes no sense to me at all.

It's the same problem as saying poetry is impossible after Auschwitz, or refusing to admire Pound's poems because he was a fascist. Life and art are related but incommensurable; it's completely understandable that people get wrought up and say silly things, but they're still silly.
posted by languagehat at 7:44 AM on August 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's the same problem as saying poetry is impossible after Auschwitz

true that. Wystan Hugh said the holocaust is not good subject matter for poetry...from the same man who said "poetry makes nothing happen".
posted by clavdivs at 10:20 AM on September 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

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