Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems: Darwish, Mahmoud, Antoon, Si nan, El-Zein, Amira, Akash, Munir, Forché, Carolyn, Joudah, Fady

Mahmoud Darwish is a literary rarity: at once critically acclaimed as one of the most important poets in the Arabic language, and beloved as the voice of his people. A legend in Palestine, his lyrics are sung by fieldworkers and schoolchildren. He has assimilated some of the world’s oldest literary traditions while simultaneously struggling to open new possibilities for poetry. This collection spans Darwish’s entire career, nearly four decades, revealing an impressive range of expression and form. A splendid team of translators has collaborated with the poet on these new translations, which capture Darwish’s distinctive voice and spirit. Fady Joudah’s foreword, new to this edition, addresses Darwish’s enduring legacy following his death in 2008.

Review

“Darwish’s complex linguistic negotiations of deeply contested places, on the earth and in the mind, demand and sustain serious reading and discussion. . . . [Forché’s] fluid and precise approach to translation is everywhere apparent here.” ― Publishers Weekly

“These translations of Mahmoud Darwish’s marvelous poems reveal the lifelong development of a major world poet. The book is a gift to other poets and lovers of poetry. It’s also an important contribution to current and future discourse on culture and politics.” ― American Poet

“This book is a beautiful rendering of beautiful verse. It is an important contribution in making accessible an important figure in modern Arab culture. Unfortunately, It Was Paradise demonstrates that Darwish is a poet of our time as well as a poet of all times.” ― Journal of Palestine Studies

“This book—perhaps the most important, available, and representative volume of Darwish to date—is really remarkable. It’s striking how this poet is so much at once and as a whole: personal and political, ‘experimental’ yet lyrically so, informed by philosophy yet reminiscent of prayer.” ― PopMatters

From the Inside Flap

“These translations of Mahmoud Darwish’s marvelous poems reveal the lifelong development of a major world poet. The book is a gift to other poets and lovers of poetry. It’s also an important contribution to current and future discourse on culture and politics.”—Adrienne Rich, author of Fox: Poems, 1996-2000

“At this critical moment in world relations, cultural, creative projects feel more necessary than ever. Celebrate this most comprehensive gathering of Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry ever translated into English. Darwish is the premier poetic voice of the Palestinian people, and the collaboration between translators Akash and Forché is a fine mingling of extraordinary talents. The style here is quintessential Darwish—lyrical, imagistic, plaintive, haunting, always passionate, and elegant—and never anything less than free—what he would dream for all his people.”—Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Fuel

From the Back Cover

“These translations of Mahmoud Darwish’s marvelous poems reveal the lifelong development of a major world poet. The book is a gift to other poets and lovers of poetry. It’s also an important contribution to current and future discourse on culture and politics.”―Adrienne Rich, author of Fox: Poems, 1996-2000

“At this critical moment in world relations, cultural, creative projects feel more necessary than ever. Celebrate this most comprehensive gathering of Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry ever translated into English. Darwish is the premier poetic voice of the Palestinian people, and the collaboration between translators Akash and Forché is a fine mingling of extraordinary talents. The style here is quintessential Darwish―lyrical, imagistic, plaintive, haunting, always passionate, and elegant―and never anything less than free―what he would dream for all his people.”―Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Fuel

About the Author

Mahmoud Darwish (1941 – 2008) was the author of over thirty books of poems, including Memory for Forgetfulness: August, Beirut, 1982 (California, 1995), The Adam of Two Edens (2001), and Psalms (1994). He received the 2001 Prize for Cultural Freedom from the Lannan Foundation.

Munir Akash is a founding editor of Jusoor, The Arab American Journal of Cultural Exchange, and coeditor of The Adam of Two Edens (2001) and Post Gibran: Anthropology of New Arab American Writing (2000). Carolyn Forché is Professor of English at George Mason University and author of The Angel of History (1994). Sinan Antoon is coeditor of Arab Studies Journal. Amira El-Zein is the author of Bedouin of Hell (1992) and The Book of Palm Trees (1973).

Fady Joudah is a prize-winning poet, translator, and physician. He is the author of The Earth in the Attic (2008) and Alight (2013), and the translator of two volumes of Mahmoud Darwish’s poetry, The Butterfly’s Burden (2007) and If I Were Another (2009).

  • Publisher‏ : ‎ University of California Press; First edition (April 15, 2013)
  • Language‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback‏ : ‎ 224 pages
  • ISBN-10‏ : ‎ 0520273036
  • ISBN-13‏ : ‎ 978-0520273030
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.6 ounces
  • Dimensions‏ : ‎ 6 x 0.7 x 8 inches

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