A New Translation of Palestinian Poet Dareen Tatour’s ‘I… Who Am I?’

On August 30, despite public threats to withdraw funding from Israeli Minister of Culture Miri Regev and Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon, poets, writers, and readers gathered in Yaffa to hold a solidarity event with Dareen Tatour, who was first arrested in October 2015, charged with incitement to violence primarily over a poem (translated to English here), and has been in jail and on house arrest since:

From the solidarity event in Yaffa. Photo: Arab48.

The solidarity event, according to a report in Arab48, included both poetry readings and a discussion of Tatour’s legal case by lawyers and activists. Tatour’s father was also there to thank those in attendance. According to multiple reports, both Regev and Kahlon threatened to use their power to defund the theatre in Yaffa that held the event.

Several US literary figures also renewed their calls for Tatour’s freedom.

Now, Tatour awaits the verdict, set to be announced on October 17, 2017, in the court in Nazareth.

You can see Tatour read some of her poems at an International Women’s Day event in Nazareth. Here, Andrew Leber translates one of the poems, “I… Who Am I?”

I… Who Am I?

By Dareen Tatour, trans. Andrew Leber

The wind asks… who am I?

You are Me,

Voice of mine.

I am the woman of the Departed One,

The one who was wronged on that foggy night,

Or write, instead, the women of the Transformed One.

I walk ahead without a step to either side,

I desire the life that exits in Nowhere,

I go on, as my ghost has no desire to remain

My freedom…

Lies in the sound of women.

And the sea asks… who am I?

I am the pearl buried in the heart of the deep,

The patience embedded in the sands of time.

I am Me…

A storm of angry waves at sunset,

Its breathing strangled in the grip of the winds.

But as I draw near the question pulls away,

And I keep on asking: “Who am I?”

A nation asks… who am I?

I am Here.

Brought forth from a womb of misery,

A child encircled by pain,

A teardrop shackled by anger.

I am the very love of the nation.

I have lived in this land,

Growing up in the byways of Nazareth,

Which became a song of peace for the birth of desires.

And I remained here, steadfast,

Building for it an eternal dream.

The palm tree asks… who am I?

I am just like him.

Against the sun, standing tall.

I rise up, my shadow standing there,

On the ground before me. I will not die,

Unless amputated, uprooted from my crying out

The sound of silence.

The soul asks… who am I?

I am the confession of the conscience.

A person who reveals the question:

Am I living among reality?

Or am I a phantasm of imagination?

I am confused in a world that has sold its beliefs,

One now covered over in devastation,

Life itself, come and drink and slake your thirst,

For the clouds will come to revitalize us.

Andrew Leber is a PhD student at Harvard University’s Department of Government. He occasionally translates and writes about other things when time permits.