‘Sleeping in Gaza,’ and More

There are several poems by Najwan Darwish in the most recent issue of Banipal (45): Writers from Palestine: 

Among the poems is “Sleeping in Gaza,” trans. Kareem James Abu Zaid. It opens:

Fado, I’ll sleep like people do
when shells are falling
and the sky is torn like living flesh.
I’ll dream, then, like people do
when shells are falling:
I’ll dream of betrayals.

I’ll wake at noon and ask the radio
the questions people ask of it:
Is the shelling over?
How many were killed?

But my tragedy, Fado,
is that there are two types of people:
those who cast their suffering and sins
into the streets so they can sleep;
and those who collect the people’s suffering and sins,
mold them into crosses, and parade them
through the streets of Babylon and Gaza and Beirut,
all the while crying,
Are there any more to come?
Are there any more to come?

It closes with an arresting image of the earth as three nails “and mercy a hammer:/ Strike, Lord./ Strike with the planes. // Are there any more to come?”

Elsewhere, in an interview with Alice Guthrie, Gazan playwright-novelist and sometimes-journalist Atef Abu Saif spoke about his story “An Exclusive Morning” and media coverage of Gaza events. 

And I think the way that the media works with Gaza is that Gaza is of course a source of news, it’s a place where news is made. I remember a friend of mine, when I was studying for my PhD in Italy, asking me how it feels to be in Gaza; I told him that it feels like being in a piece of news. And actually being in Gaza is, kind of, being in the actual factory of the news. But what is so bad about all this is the dehumanising of the people that can take place in news coverage. From my point of view, when I follow the news about Gaza, there is a lot about politics, a lot of talk about economics and sometimes military aspects, and about violence, but there is nothing about the private grief of the people, and about how people actually live – and this is the main idea of ‘An Exclusive Morning’: the two Italian ladies want him to act, they didn’t understand that he was not acting, he was crying because he felt sorrow, felt sadness, at the death of the little kids living in the neighbourhood. And they want him to repeat it, you know, so it is really about re-creating grief, sadness, re-capturing the moment, and this is hard, because this is not entertainment, you know, sadness is something private.


Words Without Borders: Still Life: Scenes in Gaza Time


Interview with Atef Abu Saif Part 1

Interview with Atef Abu Saif Part 2

An Exclusive Morning by Atef Abu Saif, translated and read by Alice Guthrie.

The Portrait Years by Atef Abu Saif, translated and read by Alice Guthrie.