Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

THE Dice Player

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

THE Dice Player

Article excerpt

A SYMPOSIUM ON THE LIFE AND WORK OF MAHMOUD DARWISH

Mahmoud Darwish was the most important Palestinian poet of our time. He was born in 1942 in the Western Galilee in the village of Birweh, before it was razed in the 1948 war that would lead to Israeli independence. As a young man, Darwish joined the Israeli Communist Party and wrote poems and editorials for left-wing newspapers. In 1964, he published his first collection of poems, titled Leaves of Olives, which included his seminal poem "Identity Card," an impassioned polemic in the form of a response to an Israeli police officer who has stopped him to ask for his papers.

His vocal activism brought intense scrutiny from the Israeli government. Three times he was arrested for giving public readings of "inciting poems" and was finally placed under house arrest from 1968 to 1971. Upon his release, he left his homeland to become a writer for newspapers in Cairo and later Beirut. In exile, he became close with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. …

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