Mahmoud Darwish, on Writing

RS: Do you build on the work of others?

MD: Yes. Very much so. I feel that no poem starts from nothing. Humanity has produced such a huge poetic output, much of it of a very high caliber. You are always building on the work of others. There is no blank page from which to start. All you can hope for is to find a small margin on which to write your signature.

More from the interview at BOMB.

As in writing, the necessary comes
on time, a feminine moon to fill the poem’s
emptiness. Do not leave me completely, and do not
take me completely. Put the right time
in the right place. You are the means and the guide

A real country, not a metaphor, your arms
around me . . . over there by the holy book
or right here. Who of us said: Language
might preserve the land from the plight
of absence if poetry wins? Who
of us said: I will forget, and forgive the heart
more than one mistake, the longer
this departure takes . . .

More of this poem, “We Walk on the Bridge” and others

A new volume of posthumous Darwish is coming out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux, says Laila Lalami.