Ghayath Almadhoun on the Balance of Palestine, Politics, and Poetry

Politics: As you know, the Corrie family’s civil case ended yesterday. Poetry: As the plaintiffs ended their lawsuit, they apparently read from Mahmoud Darwish’s Think of Others“:

As you fix your breakfast, think of others. Don’t forget to feed the pigeons.

As you fight in your wars, think of others. Don’t forget those who desperately demand peace.

As you pay your water bill, think of others who drink the clouds’ rain.

As you return home, your home, think of others. Don’t forget those who live in tents.

As  you sleep and count planets, think of others. There are people without any shelter to sleep.

As you express yourself using all metaphorical expressions, think of others who lost their rights to speak.

As you think of others who are distant, think of yourself and say “I wish I was a candle to fade away the darkness.”

 (Note: I am not sure who did this translation. Here’s another by Ibtisam Barakat.)

Darwish often spoke about the indelicate balance between politics and poetry; thinking of “others” and thinking of art. Young Palestinian poet Ghayath al-Madhoun, at the recent Days of Poetry and Wine in Ptuj, Slovenia, spoke about  how he balances these forces. ArabLit participant Barbara Skubic kindly provided this translation from the Slovenian:

Everyone wants to talk politics to me, because I’m Palestinian. To them, I’m not a poet; what they want is to discuss Syria and Palestine. Yesterday, someone finally asked me: So you’re a poet? I wrote an article about this years ago. The worst thing Israel did to us was that it completely drowned our culture, our literature. It reduced us to political subjects. Furthermore, since the occupation, our poetry has become truly political. Occupation reached too deep into the people. I often decide not to write about politics or politically any longer, because this is not poetry; I will decide on life. And then they attack us again. And then you’d be ashamed to not speak and write politically.

Almadhoun’s “We” has been translated into English by Catherine Cobham. It opens:

We, who are strewn about in fragments, whose flesh flies through the air like raindrops, offer our profound apologies to everyone in this civilised world, men, women and children, because we have unintentionally appeared in their peaceful homes without asking permission. Keep reading.

This photo is copyrighted, so I guess I can’t lift it in good conscience, but it’s a nice one, al-Madhoun checking his phone.