I Don't Want This Poem to End
Early and Late Poems
Mahmoud Darwish; translated by Mohammad Shaheen; indroduction by Elias Khoury
published 2017 • 6" x 9" • 242 pages
ISBN 9781566560009 • paperback • $20.00 •
“This alluring volume comprising three poetry collections from acclaimed Palestinian poet Darwish (1941–2008), available in English for the first time, also features complementary correspondence and essays on the poet’s life, composition process, and activism. Translator and editor Shaheen treats the poetic text as an artifact of a life in language, recognizing that Darwish’s movement through language was inevitably both personal and political. The title of the collection and some of its lines ‘might be said to be the last words spoken by the poet,’ observes Elias Khoury in his introduction. Such graceful contextualization allows readers to appreciate the nuances of the translation and Darwish’s own words: ‘He says to her as they gaze at a rose/ Which scratches the wall: death came a little nearer to me,’ Darwish writes in the title poem. That these may have been among Darwish’s last words heightens the emotional impact of both the poem’s craft and the faultless translation. The image of the rose functions as an emblem for the possibility—of empathy, kindness, and enlightenment—that art opens within political life. By carefully framing Darwish’s poetry as the record of a citizen inhabiting the complexities of Palestine’s political landscape, Shaheen delivers a volume ideally suited to both scholars and newcomers to Darwish’s body of work.”
–Publishers Weekly (starred review)
FIRST ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF NEW POETRY BY THE LATE MAHMOUD DARWISH, THE MOST IMPORTANT PALESTINIAN CONTEMPORARY POET
When the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish died in 2008, his friends visited his home and retrieved poems and writings some of which are gathered together in this volume, translated into English for the first time. They include three collections from different phases in Darwish’s writing career, as well as reminiscences by friends drawn from the poet’s final years, and a moving account of the discovery of the new poems in this collection. This volume includes:
- “How We Found the Poems” by Elias Khoury, a friend of Darwish and a distinguished novelist
- “My Friend Mahmoud,” a biographical memoir by Professor Mohammad Shaheen, translator of Darwish’s poetry.
- “The End of the Night,” “It’s a Song,” and “I Don’t Want this Poem to End”—three collections totaling about 80 poems, most translated into English for the first time.
- On Exile,” a prose essay by Mahmoud Darwish.
- A letter from the poet to his brother, written in 1965 from an Israeli prison.
- “Last Meeting” by Faisal Darraj, a leading critic in the Arab world.
Mahmoud Darwish, born in 1941 in the village of al-Birweh, Palestine, was the author of over two dozen volumes of poetry and prose. When he died in the summer of 2008, he was mourned throughout the world as a voice of the Palestinian people—author of their official declaration of independence and, most importantly, a poet of the highest invention and beauty.
Mohammad Shaheen holds a PhD in English literature from Cambridge University. He is professor of English at the University of Jordan and the author of many books. He translated Darwish’s Almond Blossoms and Beyond, also published by Interlink.
Praise for Mahmoud Darwish
“A brilliant poet—certainly the most gifted of his generation in the Arab world.”
—Edward W. Said
“Shaheen's translations are so much less cluttered, so much more moving...”
—The Nation on Almond Blossoms and Beyond
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