This post is dedicated to our indefatigable and erudite and gifted and multi-talented poetry editor, Jim Culleny, whose birthday it happens to be today. Happy birthday, dear Jim!
From Arabic Literature:
Raja Shehadeh: Do you build on the work of others?
Mahmoud Darwish: Yes. Very much so. I feel that no poem starts from nothing. Humanity has produced such a huge poetic output, much of it of a very high caliber. You are always building on the work of others. There is no blank page from which to start. All you can hope for is to find a small margin on which to write your signature.
RS: What sort of continuity is there in your own poetry?
MD: I have found that I have no poem that does not have its seeds in a poem that preceded it. Several critics have brought this to my attention. There is always a line or a word in an earlier work that I manage to take up and develop. My worry is always what’s next.
RS: Have you been writing prose?
MD: I like prose. I feel that sometimes prose can achieve a poetic state more poignant than poetry. But time is passing and my poetic project is still incomplete. There is competition in my personality between prose and poetry, but my bias is toward poetry.