Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish

Personal Info

Years in active : From 1960 To 2008
Country of resident : Palestine
City : Ramallah
Gender : Male
Date of birth : 13/3/1941
Died: 9/8/2008


Mahmoud Darwish (Arabic: محمود درويش‎) (13 March 1941 – 9 August 2008) was a Palestinian poet and author who won numerous awards for his literary output and was regarded as the Palestinian national poet. In his work, Palestine became a metaphor for the loss of Eden, birth and resurrection, and the anguish of dispossession and exile.

Darwish was born in the village of al-Birwa in the Western Galilee. He was the second child of Salim and Houreyyah Darwish. His family were landowners. His mother was illiterate, but his grandfather taught him to read. After Israeli forces assaulted his village of al-Birwa in June 1948 and expelled the villagers, the family fled to Lebanon first in Jezzin and then in Damour. A year later, they returned to the Acre area, which was now part of Israel, and settled in Deir al-Asad. Darwish attended high school in Kafr Yasif, two kilometers north of Jadeidi. He eventually moved to Haifa. He published his first book of poetry, Asafir bila ajniha or Wingless Birds, at the age of nineteen. Darwish left Israel in 1970 to study in the USSR. He attended the University of Moscow for one year, before moving to Egypt and Lebanon. When he joined the PLO in 1973, he was banned from reentering Israel. In 1995, he returned to attend the funeral of his colleague, Emile Habibi and received a permit to remain in Haifa for 4 days. Darwish was allowed to settle in Ramallah in 1995, although he said he felt was living in exile there, and did not consider the West Bank his “private homeland.”

Darwish was twice married and divorced. His first wife was the writer Rana Kabbani. In the mid-1980s, he married an Egyptian translator, Hayat Heeni. He had no children. Darwish had a history of heart disease, suffering a heart attack in 1984, followed by two heart operations, in 1984 and 1998.

His final visit to Israel was on July 15, 2007 to attend a poetry recital at Mt. Carmel Auditorium in Haifa, in which he criticized the factional violence between Fatah and Hamas as a “suicide attempt in the streets”.

Achievements and Awards

The Lotus Prize (1969; from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers) Lenin Peace Prize (1983; from the USSR) The Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters (1993; from France) The Lannan Foundation Prize for Cultural Freedom (2001)[40] Prince Claus Awards (2004) “Bosnian stećak” (2007) Golden Wreath of Struga Poetry Evenings (2007)

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