‘No Palestinian Has Ever Written Poetry Quite Like This Before’

From Arabic Literature:

ScreenHunter_589 Apr. 10 16.12Before I ever met Najwan Darwish, I’d imagined him in an impassioned frustration, throwing handfuls of promotional fliers in the air:

That was at the 2011 Palestine Festival of Literature. Two years later, when I was invited to tag along with PalFest, I rode in Darwish’s patient car and expected to hear him read his poetry in Nablus.

In that, I was disappointed. Later, I heard Darwish tell the story of why he didn’t appear onstage in Nablus, where he’d been expected to read just before Basel Zayed and Turab played music inspired by his poems.

Darwish didn’t get to see the crowd of two hundred-odd people singing along with his poetry. But he made it to the following night’s event in Ramallah and, after several false starts, he finally explained: He’d waited at a checkpoint for forty-odd minutes before being turned away. A soldier didn’t want to let him through, and Darwish felt he didn’t have time to wait for some higher-up to arrive and sort it out. So he drove off in search of an alternate checkpoint. But he got lost. He couldn’t find Nablus on his GPS, he couldn’t find signs pointing to the city and — perhaps even more telling — walls blocked his view of possible landmarks.

He ended up near Tel Aviv, where he got stuck in traffic, and continued driving around for a while longer before, in frustration, he gave up and went home.

More here.