‘How Old Am I Now?’: Newly Translated Poem by Dareen Tatour, Under House Arrest for Poetry

On Sunday, tens of activists and family members gathered outside the Nazareth court where Dareen Tatour’s trial was ongoing:

Image from "Free Haifa."
Image from “Free Haifa.”

According to the blogger and activist Yoav Haifawi:

All that the court achieved today was hearing one more policeman witness for the prosecution, named Salman ‘Amer. He is the guy that inspected Dareen’s smartphone and computer. From his words in court he seems not to be much of a computer expert, just like the policemen translator of Dareen’s poem, who witnessed in the previous hearing, had no qualifications in poetry or translation.

Haifawi, which is a pen name, added that, “One special ‘accusation’ against Dareen, coming up in Amer’s written testimony, was that she read a poem in ‘Woman’s Day’ in Nazareth.”

As reported in Haaretz, Tatour doesn’t deny the poems — including the one at the center of the trial, “Resist, My People, Resist Them” — but denies that they are meant to incite violence.

Tatour’s case was postponed until September, and she remains under house arrest. This poem, translated by Ahmed Zahran, is from her 2010 collection, The Last Invasion.

How Old Am I Now?

By Dareen Tatour, trans. Ahmed Zahran

Out of the darkness of my night–out of my prison
out of my anger erupting like a volcano
out of my hollow life—out of my tears
out of my day drenched in sadness
I have come to you, my fate!
With perplexed diamond tears
to register you, my birthdate,
to ask: How old am I now?

I am younger than all of them.
Yet, by my griefs, I am older than the days—
a chill has fostered me, and taught me
of people’s cunning.
Treachery both orphaned and undressed me—
and my eyes were buried in agony.

Since I came to the world,
need has shaped my image.
These toys of mine are remnants of a missile
and, when I am hungry, my food is fasting.
At last I’ve come to know that I have nothing
but tears and heaps of peace. 

Ahmed Aly Zahran is a teaching assistant at Menoufia University. He completed his M.A. in comparative literature with a thesis titled: “Color-Struggle in the Poetry of Amiri Baraka and Mohammed El-Faytouri: a Comparative Postcolonial Study.” He looks forward to writing his PhD and is also a poet searching for a publisher for his first collection.