Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Muse: Mahmoud Darwish Film

The Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) is the subject of a new documentary, Write Down, I Am an Arab, by Ibtisam Mara'ana Menuhin. The film premiered this past May at Doc Aviv, a Tel Aviv film festival. Recipient of an Audience Award, it had its world premiere in Toronto, Canada, at HocDocs.

According to its Website, the film — its title is taken from Darwish's poem of the same name (see text link below) — "unearth[s] the story behind the man who became the mouthpiece of the Palestinian people" and includes information about the poet's love affair with Tamar Ben-Ami, an Israeli Jew with whom Darwish corresponded; Ben-Ami kept Darwish's letters secret for years. Darwish's own voice is heard in the film in a reading of his extraordinary poem "Identity Card" and in a 1996 interview; other interviews and archival footage are included.

Here is the official trailer (also available on Vimeo):

Poems from the documentary: "Rita and the rifle", "Identity Card (Write down, I am an arab)", and "I long for my mother's bread". Additional poems (in English translation) are at Festival Internacional de Poesia de Medellin and Big Bridge

(My thanks to World Literature Today, where I first learned of the film.)

Khaled Mattawa, Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet's Art and His Nation (Syracuse University Press, 2014) Mattawa's book is a highly informed and insightful examination of Darwish and his development as a poet. His interpretations of specific poems and their context are especially valuable.

The Legacy of Mahmoud Darwish: A Conference (2009), Center for Near Eastern Studies, UCLA

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