Christmas Gift: 6 Poems by Asmaa Azaizeh

Palestinian poet Asmaa Azaizeh was born in 1985 in the village of Daburieh, in the Lower Galilee, Palestine:

Azaizeh, who graduated with a degree in English literature in 2006, was the first Director of the Mahmoud Darwish Museum in Ramallah. Azaizeh won the Young Writer Award from Al Qattan Foundation in 2010 for her first volume of poetry, Liwa, published in 2011. Her sophomore collection, As The Woman From Lod Bore Me, was published in 2015, and elements were also staged.

Her poems have since been translated into English, German, Spanish, Farsi, Swedish, Italian, Dutch and Hebrew, among others. Asmaa is currently a cultural curator in Haifa. She has a third collection coming soon.

Do Not Believe Me Were I to Talk to You of War, tr. Yasmine Haj

I Didn’t Believe I Would Ever Learn to Die, tr. Yasmine Haj

A Corpse in Ramallah, tr. Khaled al-Masri

Revival, tr. Khaled al-Masri

The Dance of the Soma, tr. Yasmine Seale

Azaizeh’s poem”Dragonflies” appeared in translation in three languages in ArabLit Quarterly: Fall 2018. Here, as translated into English by Yasmine Seale.


By Asmaa Azaizeh, tr. Yasmine Seale

Millions of years ago, there were no winged creatures.
We all crawled around on our bellies and paws
to arrive.

We arrived nowhere in particular,
but the rough ground coarsened our bellies
and our paws stretched out like mountains.
Every time we stopped in the shade of a tree,
one of us would shout: “Here we are!”
A fantasy mightier than mountains.

Millions of years ago, dragonflies emerged from narrow streams.
The water was heavy on their backs,
like a tightening in the chest,
so they asked creation for wings,
that they might perceive anguish
as clearly as stones on the riverbed.

Since then, we all fly,
millions of wings and planes cloud the sky,
humming like hungry locusts.
But not one of us has asked creation
to deliver us from the fantasy of arrival.
In our chests, the same tightening.

This poem was translated as part of commemorations held in Brussels, at BOZAR, on the tenth anniversary of Mahmoud Darwish’s death.