Palestinian Poet Ahmed Dahbour, Friend of Mahmoud Darwish, Dies at 71

Celebrated Palestinian poet Ahmad Dahbour died Saturday at a Ramallah hospital after a struggle against kidney failure:

Dahbour (1946-2017) was born in Haifa, but his family fled to Lebanon in 1948, later working in Syria. Dahbour had no formal education, but read avidly, and was able to return from exile and relocate to Ramallah in 1996.

In the Summer of 1999, his poem “Fruits or Copper” was published in Al-Karmel magazine, addressing his time outside Palsetine. An English translation appeared a special supplement on Contemporary Palestinian Poetry, translated by Hassan Hilmy:

If we had wandered in Diaspora, we did take a
a chance for which we were blamed.
We’d summoned the earthquake
and committed countries made of fruits and
Once or twice we lived as we fancied.
How then should we be branded as a ‘generation
of misfortune’?

Dahbour published a number of collections, and, in 1998, won the Palestine Award for Poetry.

Salma Khadra Jayyusi, writing in Anthology of Modern Palestinian Literature, said of Dahbour: “His highly sensitive poetry is dedicated to the Palestinian cause, mixing themes of heroism with a deep recognition of the dangers and tribulations of the contemporary Palestinian experience.”

From the poem, “The Hands Again,” in Jayyusi’s collection:

No seas in books
I seek oceans, but they don’t respond
No bed in the treet
whenever I want to rest, its dangerous branches awake
No dialogue in language
their words only reach my lips, never my inner nerves
No fields in the clouds
only blood that tries to give its news to horizons

Ibrahim Muhawi dedicated his English translation of Darwish’s Memory for Forgetfulness in part to Dahbour, “a Palestinian poet and friend of Darwish, for being there when needed.”