Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

Synopsis

Mahmoud Darwish is a literary rarity: at once critically acclaimed as one of the most important poets in the Arabic language, and beloved as the voice of his people. A legend in Palestine, his lyrics are sung by fieldworkers and schoolchildren. He has assimilated some of the world's oldest literary traditions while simultaneously struggling to open new possibilities for poetry. This collection spans Darwish's entire career, nearly four decades, revealing an impressive range of expression and form. A splendid team of translators has collaborated with the poet on these new translations, which capture Darwish's distinctive voice and spirit. Fady Joudah's foreword, new to this edition, addresses Darwish's enduring legacy following his death in 2008.

Excerpt

Mahmoud Darwish is a literary rarity. Critically acclaimed as one of the most important poets in the Arabic language and beloved as the voice of his people, he is an artist demanding of his work continual transformation and a living legend whose lyrics are sung by fieldworkers and schoolchildren. Few poets have borne such disparately bestowed adulation, nor survived such dramatic vicissitudes of history and fate as Mahmoud Darwish; even fewer have done so while endeavoring to open new possibilities for poetry while assimilating one of the world’s oldest literary traditions. His poetry has been enthusiastically embraced since the publication of his first volume, Leaves of Olive, in 1964. After the Arab defeat in the 1967 war, Darwish raised his voice in searing lyrics confronting the pain of everyday life for Palestinians. In a realism stripped of poetic flourish, the “poetry of resistance” was born. With Nerudian transparency, his poems of the sixties and early seventies reflected his pain over the occupation of his homeland and his lingering hopes for its liberation. In the intervening years, the poetry of Darwish exemplified a brilliant artistic restlessness, with each volume opening new formal territory and poetic concerns. With the publication of this collection, Darwish will celebrate his sixty-first birthday and nearly four decades of writing. He is the poet laureate of Palestine—a poet sharing the fate of his people, living in a town under siege, while providing them with a language for their anguish and dreams. Any serious study of his work must take into account the context in which it was written:

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