Sunday, August 10, 2008

Mahmoud Darwish dies

I listened to a story on NPR about Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish who died yesterday. I had not heard of him before, but the more I read, it became clear that his poetry touched many people, which is the greatest thing any poet can hope for, I think. I can't name a single poet in the United States whose death would inspire such mourning let alone interrupt regularly scheduled television programming.

Regardless of one's politics and opinions, there is great value in looking at the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis by reading poets such as Darwish and Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai. Perhaps it is the medium that strips the issue down to bone. The result is not exactly harmony, but the poems of both of these men expose a shared humanity, something that is sorely lacking in the news coverage and commentary through which the majority of us experience this conflict, if we choose to pay attention at all.

Poetry is, after all, about paying attention. Whether or not you agree with Darwish, he definitely embodied that.

Two of Darwish's poems are available to read at

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