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A River Dies of Thirst: Diaries


'A person can only be born in one place. However, he may die several times elsewhere: in the exiles and prisons, and in a homeland transformed by occupation and oppression into a nightmare. Poetry is perhaps what teaches us to nurture the charming illusion: how to be reborn out of ourselves over and over again, and use words to construct a better world, a fictitious world that enables us to sign pact for a permanent and comprehensive peace … with life.' - Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish was often cited as the poetic voice of the Palestinian people. In the summer of 2006, as Israel attacked Gaza and Lebanon, Darwish recorded his observations and feelings in poems, meditations, fragments and journal entries. The result is this remarkable collection, his last to come out in Arabic.

At once lyrical and philosophical, questioning and wise, full of irony, resistance and play, Darwish's musings on unrest and loss dwell on love and humanity. In these pages, myth and dreams are inseparable from truth.

'Darwish has given expression to his people's ordinary longings and desires.' New York Times

"Darwish is the premier poetic voice of the Palestinian people . . . lyrical, imagistic, plaintive, haunting, always passionate, and elegant—and never anything less than free—what he would dream for all his people."  — Naomi Shihab Nye

"Catherine Cobham's translations sway delicately between mystery and clarity, giving a rendition of the master's voice that should impress both those reading Darwish's work for the first time and those who are already familiar with it."  — Fady Joudah, The Guardian

Mahmoud Darwish is one of the greatest poets of our time. In his poetry Palestine becomes the map of the human soul. —Elias Khoury 

There are two maps of Palestine that politicians will never manage to forfeit: the one kept in the memories of Palestinian refugees, andthat which is drawn by Darwish’s poetry. —Anton Shammas 

I want to find a language that transforms language itself into steel for the spirit – a language to use against these sparkling silver insects, these jets. I want to sing. I want a language . . . that asks me to bear witness and that I can ask to bear witness, to what power there is in us to overcome this cosmic isolation. —Mahmoud Darwish 

Many people in the Arab world feel their language is in crisis. And it is no exaggeration to say that Mahmoud is considered a savior of the Arab language. —Syrian poetry critic Subhi Hadidi, cited by Adam Schatz, The New York Times 

Darwish left behind an entire continent of poems whispering and singing inside Arabic and calling on us to reacquaint ourselves with its topography. —Sinan Antoon

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