edited and translated by A.M. Elmessiri, illustrated by Kamal Boullata
The poems in this powerful collection range from the rhetorical lyricism of Tawfiq Zayyad to the complex, cosmic imagery of Walid al-Halis, from the romantic idiom of Salma al-Jayyusi to the edgy, convoluted style of Tawfiq Sayigh, all evoking Palestine, the never-forgotten homeland.
The rich variety of the work is explored in Abdelwahab Elmessiri’s extensive introduction and further reflected in the Arabic-language versions that accompany each selection. Opening with Mahmud Darwish’s “The Roses and the Dictionary” and Samih al-Qasim’s “To Najib Mahfuz,” the collection is organized around six themes: aesthetics of the revolution, elegies, love of Palestine, steadfastness, resistance, and victory.
Other poets represented include Laila ‘Alush, ‘Abd al-Latif ‘Aql, Fawzi el-Asmar, Mu’in Basisu, Ahmad Dahbur, Yusuf Hamdan, Ahmad Husayn, Rashid Husayn, Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, Salim Jubran, Nazih Khayr, Kamal Nasir, ‘Abd al-Karim al-Sab‘awi, Mayy Sayigh, and Fadwah Tuqan. The book also includes biographical notes and a selected bibliography.
A.M. Elmessiri (1938-2008) was most recently professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at Ain Shams University in Cairo. He was author of some sixty books on literature, poetry, history, politics, and religion, including the eight-volume Encyclopedia of Jews, Judaism, and Zionism. Kamal Boullata is a Palestinian artist and writer now living in the United States.