Tag Archives: Palestine Festival of Literature

Remembering Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish 10 years after his death

(From The National. Link to the complete article given below)

In describing Darwish’s legacy and greatness, Ahdaf Soueif, an award-winning British-Egyptian novelist and writer, told The National: “Mahmoud Darwish is simply a great poet. He has the poet’s god-given ability to use language to trigger new perceptions and to create the aesthetic fusion that hits the listener or reader’s heart and mind at the same time.

“Add to this that he was Palestinian at a time when Palestine was ‘the cause’ for every native speaker of Arabic, and that he was committed to that cause and fought for it, that he was modest, and charismatic, and you have a superstar. Darwish filled stadiums when he read. You cannot overstate his legacy.”

Born in 1941 in a village in what is today Israel, he witnessed, and was often a part of, seminal chapters in the history of Palestine throughout the 20th century and the start of the 21st century. He was a refugee, revolutionary, nationalist, humanist – all chronicled in his poetry.

The writer ‘has to resist’

In 2008, Darwish was the first writer approached by Soueif and other members of the Board of the Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) to be one of the festival’s founding patrons. He accepted.

Darwish was due to participate in the inaugural festival but had to decline due to health issues. His address was a letter welcoming the group of international writers who had travelled to Palestine for the festival, and thanking them for their solidarity. Three months later, he was being laid to rest in Ramallah.

“Darwish was 100 per cent artist, he was also 100 per cent engaged with the struggle for liberation,” says Soueif by email. “In his address to PalFest in 2008, Darwish described his personal task: how the poet ‘has to use the word to resist the military occupation. And has to resist – on behalf of the word – the danger of the banal and the repetitive.’ It’s tremendously touching as well as instructive to read his work with an awareness of that constant struggle to make his work serve his cause and, at the same time, to allow his work to be true to itself, and to create a bit of space for the ‘literariness’ of his poetry.”

Read more at The National link here

Why Israel isn’t keen on Arabic literature

The Jerusalem International Writers Fest was held mid-May, just two weeks before the Palestine Festival of Literature was staged all across historic Palestine. At the Jerusalem festival, there was no apparent recognition of Arabic literature, despite the city’s large (~34%) Arab population. How can that be? asks blogger “Arablit”: Your Middle East

At the opening ceremony of the Jerusalem International Writers Festival, author Dror Mishani decried this lack:

More and more, Hebrew literature is being created from itself, within itself, contrary to the way that it has been created over the centuries – with too little dialogue with foreign literatures – and even turning its back to languages and literatures around and inside it. Read more

Palfest: Who represents whom in literature?

This year’s Palfest raises important questions of the politics of literary representation: Aljazeera

palfest_finalOn the opening night of the sixth Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest) in Ramallah, an impassioned controversy broke out over the political correctness of literary and cultural representations of Palestinians in world literature. The renowned Danish writer Hanne-Vibeke Holst read an excerpt from her 2011 novel, Undskyldningen (The Apology), which injects a Palestinian turned suicide bomber, Khalil, into a rocky relationship between a liberal mother, Helena Tholstrup, and her daughter Sophie. Holst had not finished reading when some members of audience audibly made it clear that such images are offensive and outrageous. Read more

Palestinian literature festival shows the pen can intimidate the sword

The annual Palestine Festival of Literature (PalFest), which takes place this week in five different cities: Ramallah, Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nablus and Haifa. In its seventh edition, PalFest, despite being run on a shoestring, has attracted prominent Palestinian, Arab, European, American, Asian and African names.

PalFest has managed to skirt around the movement restrictions imposed by the Israeli military to field a diverse programme including readings, theatrical performances, music, discussions and workshops. Read more