Friday Finds: ‘Damascus 1986’

Issue 3 of The Bennington Review has a poem by Ghassan Zaqtan, “Damascus 1986,” translated from Arabic by Fady Joudah:

Zaqtan, of course, is a multi-award-winning Palestinian writer living in Ramallah, the author of ten collections of poetry and two novellas, co-winner of the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize (for Like a Straw Bird it Follows Me, along with Joudah)and twice nominated for the Neustadt Prize. The Silence That Remains (Copper Canyon Press, 2017), also translated by Joudah, is his most recent poetry collection to appear in English.

His novella, Describing the Pasttranslated by Samuel Wilder (2016), is a must-read; his Where the Bird Disappeared (2018) builds on that book.

This poem, “Damascus 1986,” is full of hard sounds, scarcely tethered images, and missed opportunities. It opens:


The key’s clang
the sun I called from the windowsill
the brief time of fondness
none of it were mine

Read the poem at The Bennington Review.


  1. The headline inverted the last two digits. !986, not 1968. Ah, ask me about typos.

    1. That’s the email, the headline above is OK. Sorry about that. No way for me to correct the 35K emails, unfortunately. :-/

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