Thursday, March 12, 2009
Mahmoud Darwish:'It is the goal of my life to write poems that are claimed by children'
Naomi Shihab Nye put this picture on the cover of her collection of poetry, 19 Varieties of Gazelle — Poems of the Middle East. She was called by angry "scholars" who informed her that the poem was by Mahmud Darwish. When Nye met Darwish a week later she said to him: "'Please forgive our mistake. If this book ever gets reprinted, I promise we will give the proper credit for the verse. ' He stared closely at the picture. Tears ran down his cheeks. 'Don't correct it,' he said. 'It is the goal of my life to write poems that are claimed by children.'"
I think that it is important to thank publications that recognize Palestinians in such a positive way. My letter to the editor:
It is with profound gratitude that I thank you for publishing Naomi Shihab Nye's "Remembering Mahmoud Darwish" and Linda Christensen's "Teaching Ideas: The Prison Cell." How beautiful for Nye to document Darwish's words upon learning that the refugee child had claimed his poem as her own: "'Don't correct it,' he said. 'It is the goal of my life to write poems that are claimed by children.'" I intend to incorporate Christensen's ideas for teaching "The Prison Cell" in my AP Literature classroom.
Nancy Harb Almendras