An Excerpt of ‘Your Name, Palestine’ by Olivia Elias


XIII Palestine when they hear your name crowds rise and sing your odyssey Engulfed you become eternal Forbidden your voice resonates stronger still and the more you suffer the more we believe in your victory I say that the triumph of love is hope I say your name, Palestine like the supreme mantra of liberation and I take flight from the depths of my prison Musicians, can you hear this vibration spreading on every continent? Palestine you fall and rise and huddled beneath your coat of olive groves and hills riddled with bullets and trailing in the dust Humanity in all its greatness moves forward the one that wakes up at daybreak walks thousands of miles on improbable roads and dreams of a better future Césaire said it There is room for everyone at the rendezvous of victory A new kindness grows on the horizon And let the sun dance above our heads!

Excerpted from Your Name, Palestine, published this month by World Poetry Books. Poems by Olivia Elias, translated by Sarah Riggs and Jérémy Victor Robert, with drawings by Basil King.

A poet of the Palestinian diaspora, Olivia Elias writes in French. Born in Haifa in 1944, she lived until the age of sixteen in Lebanon, where her family took refuge in 1948, then in Montreal, before moving to France. Her work, translated into English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese, has appeared in anthologies and numerous journals. In 2022, she published her first book in English translation, Chaos, Crossing (World Poetry), translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid.

Sarah Riggs is a poet, artivist, and co-founder of Tamaas. She is the translator, from French, with the help of Alisha Mascarenhas, Jérémy Robert, and Cole Swensen, of Etel Adnan’s TIME (Nightboat, 2019), which won the Griffin International Poetry Prize and Best Translated Book Award and was nominated for Lambda and PEN.

Jérémy Victor Robert is a translator between English and French who works and lives in his native Réunion Island.

Basil King is a painter and writer, and the author of several poetry collections; his two most recent books—In Delacroix’s Garden (Spuyten Duyvil), a collaboration with Yuko Otomo, and After Thought: Paintings and Poems (Granary Books)—combine his recent art and his poetry.