Najwan Darwish discussing his new collection of poetry Exhausted on the Cross

Friday, March 26, 2021 7:00 PM

Najwan Darwish discussing his new collection of poetry Exhausted on the Cross

“We drag histories behind us,” the Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish writes in Exhausted on the Cross, “here / where there’s neither land / nor sky.” In pared-down lines, brilliantly translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, Darwish records what Raúl Zurita describes as “something immemorial, almost unspeakable”—a poetry driven by a “moral imperative” to be a “colossal record of violence and, at the same time, the no less colossal record of compassion.” Darwish’s poems cross histories, cultures, and geographies, taking us from the grime of modern-day Shatila and the opulence of medieval Baghdad to the gardens of Samarkand and the open-air prison of present-day Gaza. We join the Persian poet Hafez in the conquered city of Shiraz and converse with the Prophet Mohammad in Medina. Poem after poem evokes the humor in the face of despair, the hope in the face of nightmare.

About the Author:

Najwan Darwish (b. 1978) is one of the foremost contemporary Arab poets. Since the publication of his first collection in 2000, his poetry has been hailed across the Arab world and beyond as a singular expression of the Palestinian struggle. He has published eight books in Arabic, and his work has been translated into more than twenty languages. NYRB Poets published Darwish’s Nothing More to Lose, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, in 2014, which was picked as one of the best books of the year by NPR and nominated for several awards. Darwish lives between Haifa and his birthplace, Jerusalem.

About the Translator:

Kareem has translated works by hundreds of Arabic authors from every country in the Arab-speaking world (with the exception of Mauritania!). In addition to his numerous books and contributions to anthologies, Kareem’s translations have also been published, or are forthcoming, in The Washington Post, PBS, PEN America, Poetry Magazine, Granta, the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, and many other venues. Kareem is committed to bringing Arabic literature to a broad audience in the US and abroad, and his translations have been reviewed in many forums, including NPR’s All Things Considered, The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Paris Review, World Literature Today, The New York Review of Books, The Kenyon Review, The Quarterly Conversation, and elsewhere. His translations have themselves been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Albanian, Romanian, Croatian, Macedonian, and other languages. Kareem also works extensively editing the translations of other translators.

About the Moderator:

This discussion will be moderated by Founder and Director of the Cheuse Center, Matthew Davis. Matthew Davis is the founding director of the Alan Cheuse International Writers Center. He’s the author of When Things Get Dark: A Mongolian Winter’s Tale and his work has appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the LA Review of Books and Guernica, among other places. He has been an Eric and Wendy Schmidt Fellow at New America, a Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute at UNLV, and a Fulbright Fellow to Syria and Jordan.

This event is co-sponsored by the Cheuse Center for International Writers at George Mason University, a cultural diplomatic center that supports international literature and advocates for international writers.

This is a VIRTUAL EVENT! Please register in advance here

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