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Mahmoud Darwish

His Indomitable Self

If poets and their art provide us with tools necessary for living, then Mahmoud Darwish may be the hammer and chisel in poetry’s chest, feared by some for his capacity to tear down the walls of comfortable myths, and lauded by others for his ability to carve a crystalline beauty from the Alhambraic stones of the amorphous present.

The Eternal Traveler (print only)

 I thought of waiting until tomorrow to begin but decided that elegies are better written in the middle of the night—and an elegy for Mahmoud Darwish is best written in a country where one feels foreign, gazing at a dark horizon with a glass of wine in hand.


I saw the procession, followed the coffin like the others, with head respectfully bowed. I found no reasons to ask them, Who’s this stranger? Where’d he live? How’d he die? There are many causes of death, among them the ache of life. I asked m [...]

His Own Elegy

I read “The Dice Player” in its entirety in an Arabic newspaper right after Darwish read the poem for the first time in Ramallah in June 2008—what would be his last public appearance in that city. 

The Dice Player

Who am I to say to you what I say to you? when I’m not a stone burnished by water to become a face or a reed punctured by wind to become a flute . . . I’m a dice player I win some and lose some just like you or a little less . . . born b [...]