Banipal 33 - Autumn/Winter 2008

“Let us go, you and I, on two paths: You, to a second life, promised to you by language in a reader who might survive the fall of a comet on earth. I, to a rendezvous I postponed more than once, with a death I promised a glass of red wine in a poem.” -Mahmoud Darwish (trans. Sinan Antoon)

Mahmoud Darwish passed away on Saturday 9 August, 2008, following complications after major heart surgery in Houston, Texas. He was just 67. He never stopped writing and performing his poetry, which has inspired thousands upon thousands of people of all ages and nationalities, and continue to inspire them. He is one of the most renowned, respected and loved poets of today's world, a poetic giant who became the voice of Palestine, of Palestinian loss and exile, and in later years its voice of conscience.

“Darwish left behind,” writes Sinan Antoon, “an entire continent of poems whispering and singing inside Arabic and calling on us to reacquaint ourselves with its topography.” The feature includes a poem written by Mahmoud Darwish earlier this year, At the Station of a Train which Fell Off the Map, translated by Sinan Antoon. In addition we present a foretaste from Mahmoud Darwish’s last collection, with a selection of poems from the collection, that wll be published by Saqi Books next year as If I Were a Stone, translated by Catherine Cobham.

Fellow poets and writers from around the world contribute their feelings on his passing, including Saadi Yousef, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Denys Johnson Davies, Wole Soyinka, Mark Strand, Abdo Wazen, Kadhim Jihad Hassan, Alberto Manguel, Amjad Nasser, Marie-Thérèse Abdel-Messih, Giuseppe Goffredo, Fadhil al-Azzawi, Judith Kazantzis, Thomas Høegh, Peter Clark, Clara Janès, Gaber Asfour, Bernard Noël, Mohammed Bennis, Naomi Shihab Nye, Stephen Watts, Qassim Haddad, Saif al-Rahbi, Issa J Boullata, Taha Adnan, and Mahmoud Shukair.

The feature includes rare photographs of Mahmoud Darwish taken in the last months of his life as he worked with Arts Alliance Productions on their film project Identity of the Soul, which screened open-air shows to packed audiences in Palestine in October.

Part 3
of our series on Contemporary Syrian Literature opens with poems by Adonis, selected from Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs, a new volume in translation from BOA Editions. There is also fiction from Fawwaz Haddad, who is long-listed for the 2008-09 International Prize for Arabic Fiction, from Khalil al-Neimi’s intriguing novel, In Praise of Deserting, with short stories from Ibrahim Samuel and Gladys Matar, and poems from Hussein Bin Hamza.

Banipal 33 includes many book reviews to whet readers’ appetites. They include The Butterfly’s Burden by Mahmoud Darwish, which won the 2008 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for its translator Fady Joudah, as well as a review of his own award-winning poetry collection, The Earth in the Attic. A sheaf of novels in translation is reviewed, including The Year of the Revolutionary Bread-Making Machine by Hassan Daoud, Wild Mulberries by Iman Humaydan Younes, Nuit de l’étranger by Habib Selmi, Hakawati by Rabih Almeddine, The Collar and the Bracelet by Yahya Taher Abdullah, Gold Dust by Ibrahim al-Koni, and The Journals of Sarab Affan by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, as well as The Road from Damascus by Robin Yassin-Kassab, Contemporary Iraqi Fiction, An Anthology by Shakir Mustafa, and Denys Johnson Davies reviews David Tresilian’s A Brief Introduction to Modern Arabic Literature.


Cover photograph of Mahmoud Darwish is by Arts Alliance Productions


EDITORIAL by Sinan Antoon –
An Entourage of Violins and Clouds

Mahmoud Darwish –
Poem At the Station of a Train Which Fell off the Map
translated by Sinan Antoon

Mahmoud Darwish –
Poems from forthcoming volume If I were a Stone
translated by Catherine Cobham

Tribute, articles and poems by:
Saadi YousefThe poet as a comet
Tahar Ben JellounMahmoud Darwish is dead. Long live his poetry!
Denys Johnson DaviesThe eloquent voice
Wole Soyinka – A Night in Ramallah
Mark Strand – His modesty and seriousness
Abdo WazenThe timeless poet who created his own modernity
Kadhim Jihad HassanThe miracle of friendship
Alberto Manguel – Mahmoud Darwish: “I don’t belong to myself”
Amjad NasserMahmoud Darwish between the political and the aesthetic
Marie-Thérèse Abdel-MessihThe Nomad
Giuseppe GoffredoThe Tiredness of the World (A Lament for Mahmoud Darwish)
Fadhil al-AzzawiThe Killing Love
Judith KazantzisThe Great World Poet
Thomas HøeghOur Exciting Journey Together
Peter Clark – Going to El-Birweh
Clara Janès – Mahmoud Darwish: always alive amongst us
Gaber AsfourThe Final Triumph
Bernard NoëlA Universal Poet
Mohammed Bennis – The Power of his Resistance
Naomi Shihab Nye – “They Know the Words”
Stephen Watts – The Lyric Gift
Qassim Haddad Wake Up Your Horse!
Saif al-Rahbi – The Theme of Absence
Issa J Boullata – The Concept of Homeland
Taha Adnan – A Festival in his Own Right
Mahmoud Shukair – Mahmoud Darwish and this Departure


Adonis – Selected Poems from Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs

Fawwaz Haddad – Excerpt from his novel Passing Scene
(Fawwaz Haddad is long-listed for the 2008-09 International Prize for Arabic Fiction)

Hussein Bin Hamza – Selected Poems

Gladys Matar – A short story Forty

Khalil al-Neimi – Excerpt from the novel In Praise of Deserting

Ibrahim Samuel – Two short stories: Emptiness and Like a Comma in a Sentence


Stephen Watts reviews
The Butterfly’s Burden by Mahmoud Darwish
Marilyn Booth reviews The Year of the Revolutionary Bread-Making Machine by Hassan Daoud
Aamer Hussein reviews
Wild Mulberries
by Iman Humaydan Younes
Katarzyna Pieprzak reviews
Nuit de l’étranger by Habib Selmi
Judith Kazantzis reviews Hakawati by Rabih Almeddine
Denys Johnson Davies reviews
A Brief Introduction to Modern Arabic Literature
by David Tresilian
Peter Clark reviews
The Collar and the Bracelet by Yahya Taher Abdullah
Herbert Mason reviews
The Journals of Sarab Affan by Jabra Ibrahim Jabra
Susannah Tarbush reviews Gold Dust by Ibrahim al-Koni
Marilyn Hacker reviews
The Earth in the Attic by Fady Joudah
Daniel Newman reviews Contemporary Iraqi Fiction, An Anthology introduced & translated by Shakir Mustafa
Peter Clark reviews
The Road from Damascus by Robin Yassin-Kassab

Some of these book reviews will be made available online. Click here for full list of online book reviews, originally reviewed in Banipal issues



London: Remembering Sargon Boulus – 1944 to 22 October 2007
London: The 2008 Saif Ghobash–Banipal Translation Prize Award

The TRANSLATORS in Banipal 33 are: Piers Amodia, Sinan Antoon, Thomas Aplin, Ali Azeriah, Michael Beard, Issa J Boullata, Catherine Cobham, Elliott Colla, Adnan Haydar, Lulu Norman, Youssef Rakha, Kathryn Stapley, Paul Starkey and Jenny Steel

Banipal No. 33