Unfortunately, It Was Paradise

The author of over twenty poetry collections, Mahmoud Darwish is well represented in this selection of poems from five of his books published between 1985-2000. Having lived in exile for more than twenty-five years, Darwish writes lyrical poems of longing, of desire; he says, “I have learned and dismantled all the words in order to draw from them a single word: Home.”

Darwish is deeply involved in politics, having served as an advisor to the PLO Executive Committee from 1982-1993, but his poems are not heavy-handed or annoyingly didactic. His lyrical gifts, his ability to make a poem that sweeps through time and space by associative leaps of the imagination, prevent his poems from being merely tied to the daily struggle of politics; Darwish’s poems are abundantly human, soaring pieces that reach the reader through the power of his image-making and the depth of his vision and commitment.

Since the publication of his first book of poems in 1964, Darwish has consistently displayed a mastery of the power of surrealism when it is linked with and grounded by a political and historical impulse. This work of selected poems should be required reading not only for those looking for insight into the Palestinian struggle, but for any readers who long for poems that are attractive in their surfaces as well as their depths.