Modern Arab writers: Mahmoud Darwish

"I thought poetry could change everything, could change history and could humanise ... but now I think that poetry changes only the poet."

Mahmoud Darwish, Palestinian poet

The Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was born to a land-owning family in the village of Birwah, Galilee. Following the 1948 war, the Israelis demolished the village and the family became refugees, initially fleeing to Lebanon before secretly returning to Israel.

As a result of this experience, exile and dispossession became major themes of his writing. His poetry has won a number of awards, though most of it has never been translated into English.
He joined the Israeli Communist Party in the 1960s but later became active in the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. In 1993 he resigned from the PLO’s executive committee in protest at the Oslo Accords, demanding a tougher approach to negotiations with Israel.

Articles about Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish – a poet of peace in a time of conflict
By Raja Shehadeh, The Guardian, 7 August 2009

Mahmoud Darwish: Palestine’s prophet of humanism
By Saifedean Ammous, The Electronic Intifada, 12 August 2008

Obituary: Mahmoud Darwish
By Peter Clark, The Guardian, 11 August 2008

Palestine's Poet of Exile
by Nathalie Handal. The Progressive, 2002.

Mahmoud Darwish
(Poetry Foundation)

Mahmoud Darwish - Biography
(Darwish Foundation)

Translated poems

A State of Siege
Ramallah, January 2002. Translated by Ramsis Amun

I Come from There


Psalm 9

Psalm Three

Under Siege