I have just finished two books of poetry: one that’s been on my bucket list for ages (Darwish) and one that I picked up in a book store, even though I had never heard of the poet, only because the foreword was written by Jawaharlal Nehru. That’s all the introduction I needed.
All beautiful poetry is an act of resistance, Darwish said.
Does all poetry resist? Does all poetry have to resist? Is all poetry beautiful. Without poetry, will there be resistance? Or beauty? As always, here’s a 13 point review. The poetry talks for itself.
1. A River Dies of Thirst by Mahmoud Darwish (Trans: Catherine Cobham) should get more than a 5/5. Should get almost an entire universe.
2. Unputdownable resistance writing: a rousing call for freedom, inside and out. Framed as poems, prose-poetry and journal extracts, page after page questions the poet himself, the violent occupation, the world; questions love, identity, life and whatever is beyond it. You are left gasping for breath at the way the words dance or suddenly everything goes still so you can hear the lines fall one by one into the silence. Or both things happen at the same time.
3. You’re going to die here this evening, so what will you do in the time that remains? Someone asks the poet. (The rest of your life)
4. How many mistakes have we made? The poet asks himself or parts of himself in different poems. What’s it all for? How shall I evaluate my mirage? Where shall we go when there’s no land there, and no sky? So why didn’t you forget to forget me? Am I happy tonight?
5. Where did we leave our life behind? The poet asks the butterfly. (Summer and Winter)
6. Prison Days and Other Poems by Agyeya – 3.7/5
7. Resistance poetry, written while imprisoned in the 1930s under British colonial rule – the bleakness of prison, the distance to freedom: a heartfelt cry. A second section talks of impassioned love and its nonfulfillment.
8. Life is all bars facing bars, / But if every morning with every heartbeat / We could fill with the knowledge/ That to the same rhythm / Another’s also beats— / Ah! Would the glad red sun not always shine / Into the morning of Eternity? (Bars facing Bars)
9. Mayhap in the death that stalks everywhere / I should have forgotten / But how shall I forget when action calls, / When you call? (The Fool)
10. But in my heart is a tiny need / A very simple elementary quest: / How shall I have you? Nay, not even that, even less: / I ask only / How shall I give myself to you? (I talk glibly)
11. Is communion only / A / Confluence of solitudes? (Confluence)
12. “Nothing proves that I exist when I think, as Descartes says, but rather when I am offered up in sacrifice, now, in Lebanon.” – Beyond identification, Mahmoud Darwish
13. “Nothing is dead in me— / Existence is a state that vivifies: / I cannot die because suffering lives in me.” – Dust Storm, Agyeya
My previous review is here. Tell me what you are reading now and if you’ve read Murakami’s Underground. I moved it to the top of my TBR stack. (The original list is here – will post the much updated list next time around)
9 thoughts on “Reading list update -4”
Not one I’ve read, but it sounds intriguing and deep.
Will put the first one on my list. I love this quote from the author about the book:”
All prose here is primitive poetry lacking a skilled craftsman, and all poetry here is prose accessible to passers-by.”
He’s totally brilliant. I have his book “In the presence of absence” and it is just as beautifully written.
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You and Darwish got me thinking about poetry being an act of resistance. Are all poets resistors of the norm?
That’s the question, isn’t it?!! Does it have to be that way? Is poetry necessary for resistance or the other way round? What do people write about? I’m trying to work through the questions!
Now that would be a real challenge, lol!
Should be interesting… poetic responses to the most difficult questions ever! Next series, when/ if the memoir gets done 🙂
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Sounds wonderful! Will look for it. (One who raises deep and startling questions yourself, I am not surprised you relate.)
Darwish is truly brilliant – and this is the translation, must be even more so in the original Arabic. ( Thank you- next project should be to write “The book of answers” 🙂 )
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