Yesterday, the great Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish would have been seventy years old.
In Ramallah, the Spanish author Juan Goytisolo—known in the Arabic-reading world for his support of Arab culture and his rejection of the Ghaddafi Literary Award—received the second annual Mahmoud Darwish prize.
The prize is given for work contributing to Palestinian cultural life.
According to El Pais, Goytisolo, upon receiving the award, said (roughly):
Indeed, Darwish’s poetry also addressed the Israelis with a sense of justice…to remind them that the Holocaust does not justify the continued humiliation of Palestinians or condeming them to live on their own land under an apartheid regime which violates all U.N. Security Council resolutions and international laws in its foundational text.
And that Darwish was:
“…the voice that can express clearly and beautifully the brutality of the occupying force as well as the disloyalty of those who abandoned the project of democratization of Arab societies, which used the defeat of his alleged holy cause to satisfy their craving for power and to settle scores with rivals.
And over at Jadaliyya, Sinan Antoon celebrates Darwish with a new translation of “Standing Before the Ruins of al-Birweh.”
Standing Before the Ruins of Al-Birweh
Like birds, I tread lightly on the earth’s skin
so as not to wake the dead
I shut the door to my emotions to become my other
I don’t feel that I am a stone sighing
as it longs for a cloud
Thus I tread as if I am a tourist
and a correspondent for a foreign newspaper
If you’re in New York:
Tomorrow at 7 p.m., Marcel Khalife will speak about the life and work of Mahmoud Darwish at Columbia’s Center for Palestinian Studies. Registration is recommended.