Mahmoud Darwish

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (March 13, 1942 –August 9, 2008) was also a member of the Palestinian National Council of the Palestine Liberation Organization. He was born in 1941 in Barwa village in the Galilee near the Acre coast. His family left Palestine along with the Palestinian refugees of 1948 to Lebanon, only to sneak back across the border in 1949 after the signing of the war’s ceasefire agreement and find that Israeli settlements had been erected on the ruins of their village. Darwish lived with his family nearby.

After completing his secondary education in Yennie High School in Kafr Yasif, Darwish became a member of the Israeli Communist Party and worked with the party’s media, such as the newspapers Il-Itihad and Al-Jadeed, where he later became an editor. He also was an editor of Al-Fajr newspaper.

Israeli occupation forces repeatedly arrested Mahmoud Darwish on charges related to his comments and political activity, starting in 1961 until 1972, when he went to the Soviet Union to study. He moved Cairo in the same year, joined the PLO, then moved to Lebanon, where he worked in the publishing houses of the Palestine Liberation Organization. Darwish resigned from the Executive Committee of the PLO to protest the Oslo accords. Later, Darwish founded Karmel cultural magazine.

Darwish’s poetry garnered numerous literary awards and he is regarded as Palestine’s national poet laureate. His writing focuses on themes of dispossession and exile. Later in life, Darwish returned to Palestine, but to the Palestinian Authority areas, not his birth home. His writing then changed in theme to engage the changing political landscape and his own personal journey.