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Mahmoud Darwish, Exile's Poet
Critical Essays
edited by Hala Kh. Nassar and Najat Rahman

6" x 9" • 384 pages
ISBN 9781566566643 • paperback • $25.00

"This excellent volume places Darwish’s poetry and thought in their cultural and intellectual context. Highly recommended.”

More Reviews »

Mahmoud Darwish’s work has long been considered seminal in shaping modern Arabic poetry. He has received wide international recognition and is regarded as a contender for the Nobel Prize. Often deemed the “Poet of the Resistance,” no substantial critical study exists that addresses the complexity of Darwish’s poetry in rewriting the homeland and articulating exile. His later poetry consciously marks a move away from his earlier portrayals of identity, home, and poetry, yet many critics have failed to take note of this shift. His oeuvre yokes poetry and history, the political and the poetic, probing identities in perpetual exile. This book examines the complex connections between poetry, myth, lyric, prose, and history in Darwish’s poetry. The scholarly articles in this volume situate his work in relation to both modern Arabic and world poetry. In addition, the articles address issues such as the future of poetry, the role of the poet, language, cultural heritage, lyrical modes, as well as the relationship of place and identity.

Hala Kh. Nassar is an assistant professor of modern Arabic culture and literature at Yale University. She is at work on a book about Palestinian theater and the culture of martyrdom.

Najat Rahman is assistant professor of comparative literature at the University of Montreal. Her work explores Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry in relation to contemporary articulations of home.

Media Reviews

"Born in upper Galilee, Palestine, in 1941 but in exile since 1948, Darwish has become the most famous Palestinian poet and one of the leading poets of the Arab world. This excellent volume places Darwish's poetry and thought in their cultural and intellectual context. Against the background of the power of poetry in Arab culture, and Darwish's own exile from his homeland, one sees him creating a new homeland in language. The essays closely examine Darwish's interaction with the Arab literary tradition and his changing relation to exile and homeland, to the Hebrew Bible, and to the interaction of history and myth. The idea that colonial powers have appropriated and denatured the Palestinian past recalls Derek Walcott's thoughts in Omeros (1990), and a chapter on Darwish's prose writing sharply delineates parallels with Mourid Barghouti's I Saw Ramallah. This volume reveals that Darwish is motivated not by self-pity or victimhood but rather by a proactive effort to counter the master narratives of imperialism, in a poetry that is not overtly political. This is an important volume for those interested in Arabic, Middle Eastern, and comparative literature. Highly recommended."

"Arguably the most important Palestinian poet of our time, Mahmoud Darwish appears for the first time in English in Exile's Poet, deftly edited by professors of modern Arabic culture and comparative literatures respectively Hala Khamis Nassar & Najat Rahman it offers a critical appraisal of Darwish's work as well, from his earliest works to his later work, filled with connections between myth, lyric, prose, and history among other things. The Editors bring in editorials on the future of poetry, roles of the modern poet, heritage and more. Highly recommended to poetry fans who want an in depth look from another place in the world."
— Midwest Book Review

"In “Exile’s Poet, Critical Essays,” most of the scholars have been involved in translation, and they patiently explain the complexities of the original Arabic for the English reader, making this collection a valuable library addition and ideal for those who teach world literature in English. ...testifies to the depth of Darwish’s talent as a poet who continually enriches...provides an array of secondary sources, some jewels of information in the endnotes and an extensive bibliography of cited works."
—Al Jadid

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