POSTPONED, DATE TBA_Book talk: Palestine as Metaphor


Dr. Amira El-Zein, Associate Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture at Georgetown University in Qatar


  • A light snack is served at 12:30 p.m. Livestreamed talk begins promptly at 1:00 p.m.



Translated by Amira El-Zein and Carolyn Forche, Palestine as Metaphor consists of a series of interviews with the late Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, which have never been translated and published in English before. Mahmoud Darwish, born in 1941 in the village of al-Birweh, Palestine, was the author of over two dozen volumes of poetry and prose. When he died in the summer of 2008, he was mourned throughout the world as a voice of the Palestinian people- author of their official declaration of independence and, most importantly, a poet of the highest invention and beauty.

The interviews in this book provide a wealth of information on Darwish’s personal life, relationships, and numerous works, and captures his conception of poetry as a supreme art that transcends time and place.

Several writers and journalists conducted the interviews, including a Lebanese poet, a Syrian literary critic, three Palestinian writers, and an Israeli journalist. Each encounter took place in a different city from Nicosia to London, Paris, and Amman. These vivid dialogues unravel the threads of a rich life haunted by the loss of Palestine and illuminate the genius and the distress of a major world poet.

Amira El-Zein will present the book, copies which will be available for purchase. 



Biographies of Speaker and Translators

Amira El-Zein is a poet, translator, and Associate Professor of Arabic Literature and Culture at Georgetown University in Qatar. She is the author of Creativity and the Sacred (Beirut, 2016), Islam, Arabs, and the Intelligent World of the Jinn (Syracuse University Press, 2009), and the co-editor of Culture, Creativity, and Exile (Kitab Publications, 2003). As a poet, she published a book of poetry in Arabic titled Is This Devastation For Me Alone? which was preceded by two poetry books: The Book of Palm Trees and Bedouins of Hell, both in Arabic, and The Jinn and Other Poems in English (Arrowsmith, 2006). Among her numerous translations are Les Tarahumaras of Antonin Artaud (from French into Arabic), Malraux par lui-même by Gaeton Picon (from French into Arabic), La Guerre by Jean-Marie Le Clézio (from French into Arabic). She also co-translated the poetry of Mahmud Darwish titled Unfortunately it Was Paradise (from Arabic into English) (California University Press, 2006). El-Zein has published more than a dozen articles in refereed journals and has authored several book chapters on an ample range of topics including Sufism in medieval and contemporary Islam, gender in Islam, Francophone literature, Arabian Nights, and contemporary Arabic poetry and fiction.

Carolyn Forché is the author of four books of poetry, and the editor of two best-selling poetry anthologies, Against Forgetting and Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500-2001. Her poetry books include Gathering the Tribes, The Country between Us, The Angel of History, Blue Hour, and the forthcoming, In the Lateness of the World. She has translated the works of Claribel Alegrîa, Robert Denos, and Mahmoud Darwish, among others. She has been widely honored, receiving the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for Peace and Culture in Stockholm, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and most recently, The Academy of American Poets Fellowship in Poetry for 2014. She has taught writing and literature for forty years, and has read her poetry around the world. Her work has been translated into more than twenty languages. She is a University Professor at Georgetown University, where she served as director of The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.









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