Taha Muhammad Ali died, aged 80, in Nazareth on 2 October 2011. Born in Saffuriyah, near Nazareth, he was 17 when the Saffuriyans were forced out of their village by the Jewish army in July 1948. The village was later levelled to the ground in January of 1949, like some 400 other Palestinian villages. Taha and members of his family fled to Lebanon, but later found refuge in Nazareth. Taha lived in Nazareth for the rest of his life.
He started publishing his poetry in the early ’40s. In the 1950s and 1960s, he sold souvenirs during the day to Christian pilgrims and studied poetry at night. Self taught, his formal education ended after fourth grade.
Taha contributed three poems to Banipal No. 2, translated by Anton Shammas, "Abdelhadi Fights a Super Power", "Tricking the Killers" and "The Rope of Sabha, the Cow". A collection of his work in English translation (with facing Arabic), So What: New & Selected Poems, 1971–2005, translated by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi, and Gabriel Levin, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2006. Taha is also the subject of a biography published by Yale University Press, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet's Life in the Palestinian Century by Adina Hoffman.
Banipal No 2 June 1998
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