I Always Learn From
By Fakhri Saleh
Posted Tuesday August 7, 2001 - 05:44:56 PM EDT
Amman - ALTHOUGH RENOWNED Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish made remarkable
strives in poetry, he is still not satisfied with his career.
He believes poetry is an open gate for poets to sail through in their thoughts.
"I am more anxious than being satisfied about my achievements. And this is
because I am always observing the present in tomorrow's eyes," Darwish told Ad
Dustour. Darwish, who began his career in poetry more than 40 years ago,
considers his relationship with poetry as stemming from the current political
and cultural situation in the Arab world and Palestine in particular. "The
relationship between me and my readers is dialectical, a free alliance that has
inter-attraction from both sides," he explained, adding his readers are not
privy to the anguish he goes through when he sits down to develop his ouvre.
they [readers] are always in my heart and mind, because I came to realize that
poetry without readers means nothing." The 60-year-old Darwish wrote his first
poems when he was in elementary school in the Dir Al Assad village. He and his
family were forced to flee their hometown, Al Birwah village, near Akka, after
the Zionists terrorists attacked their home in 1948. He pointed out the
Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation is open and will not end easily.
"The most important thing is to support the Palestinian people's steadfastness
in this conflict." He believes the Palestinians will have to demand a proper
settlement to end the conflict rather than lose time on pursuing peace.
"I believe the Palestinian and Israeli perspectives of peace will not meet. Not
only a peace settlement is hard to achieve but the resumption of peace talks is
really impossible." Despite the fact Darwish is living in the West Bank city of
Ramallah, he still has fond memories of Akka and Haifa. Darwish is a fluent in
English and French, something which helps him to enrich his poetry which is in
Darwish is well-known among Arab readers for his inspirational and heroic epics
about love and Palestine. Despite his long illness, Darwish believes his recent
collection of poems, "Judarieh" (Mural), is a response to his illness. The
collection is rather surreal, explaining his quaint admiration for the ideas of
love and death. He points out these are two contradictory elements that compete
with one another.
"Who will win in the end, love or death," said Darwish.
"To ask for love is like asking for life. Thus, the relation between love and
death is hidden." Darwish's other collection, "Ahad Ashar Kawkaban" (Eleven
Planets), is considered the best of his works.
"The collection presents a revelation of epic performance." The Palestinian poet
said the collection focuses on two great historical changes in human history,
and Arabic culture in particular. Both changes took place in the same year,
1492; the first was the discovery of America and the other was the expulsion of
the Arabs from Andalusia.
"My own reading of Arab history always reminds me that our absconding from
reality and world culture will continue. This helped me to project some of the
historic events and occasions in some of my poetry epics." But the days of such
epics no longer exist. "An epic means a nationalistic biography that tells the
story of a struggle till it is finally settled. Our struggle is still going on.
What poets can do is employ the spirit of the epic for writing better poetry.
Poetry today has become more lyrical and egoist.
"I consider myself a lyrical poet. And I believe it is good. I wrote many
lyrical poems that talk about ancient legends in a modern language," explained
Darwish, referring to his lyrical collection, called "Limatha Tarakt Al Hessan
Wahidan?" (Why did you leave the horse alone)? He ended his interview with a
confession. "I can criticize myself and always upgrade myself. But I won't
consider this an apology or regret of any poems I wrote before. I always learn
from criticism. A good poet is the one who reads a lot and be influenced by
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