Mahmoud Darwish, born on this day…


… in 1941., as lynxqualey reminds us on Arab Literature (in English), going on to note that:

Eleven cities around Italy are remembering his work today, keeping it in the light, and (virtually) we join them.

& then quotes “from Ibrahim Muhawi’s wonderful translation of Darwish’s Journal of an Ordinary Grief:

Tonight is your birthday: the thirteenth of March. And you want an occasion to wrest a deceptive happiness from the grim days. You gather your friends. You conspire against sadness with cups and music and cutting jokes. The music gets louder and you dance. The laughter of the girls reaches the neighbors’ windows. At midnight a policeman arrives. He checks identities and threatens arrest. Be civilized. Enough barbarism. You ask him why, and he says the neighbors had called, to keep the building quiet. You say, “It’s a birthday,” and he answers, “That’s no concern of mine.”

Oh my good neighbors! Why didn’t you warn me that my happiness gives you pain? And why does the music you play, which is made from my blood, pour into my windows every night with no complaint from me? When are you going to get out of my craw, O neighbors? When?

When you go to bed you reach the conclusion that the neighbors were right. In the morning you apologize: “I have no right to celebrate as long as I am your neighbor. Forgive me, O neighbors!” I repent for celebrating.

Also remember:

With “Standing Before the Ruins of Al-Birweh,” trans. Sinan Antoon. Darwish was born in al-Birweh, which was occupied and depopulated seven years later.

An interview with Raja Shehadeh, in which Darwish said: “For gaining in experience and furthering one’s knowledge, the city is the better locale, but for getting on with the writing process the village has fewer distractions. The smaller the place the better for writing. In my house the room I write in is the smallest in the house.”

The same site has also now reported that ” All of Mahmoud Darwish’s Books Removed from Riyadh Book Fair

Just a few days after all the works by Saudi publisher Arab Network for Research and Publishing were removed from the Riyadh International Book Fair for violating the Kingdom’s laws, the works of globally celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish caused protests and have reportedly been withdrawn from the fair and are not to be sold

Numerous news sources reported the removal of the books, while images and videos circulating on Twitter purported to show the protests against Darwish’s ouevre as well as the packing-up of Darwish’s books.

The order was reportedly given Wednesday to remove Darwish’s books from the fair after protestors objected to alleged blasphemy found in his works. A large crowd gathered, and security reportedly had to be called in. After that, the PVPV ordered the books removed.

This came not long after the Arab Network for Research and Publishing stall was removed from the fair, and all the house’s books confiscated. In response to the seizure, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information Dr. Abdulaziz Khoja released a statement that said, in part, “the Kingdom’s security is more important than anything, and trying to destabilize our unity can not be tolerated.”

Reaction to the seizure of Darwish’s books on Twitter ranged from cynical to furious. Saudi-based Redha Al-boori (@Redha_ph) wrote “Haha irony, I saw Dawkins’s books being sold there… they left them and went afetr Darwish’s books….”

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