March 20

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Mourid and Me

My favourite Palestinian book is Mourid Barghouti’s beautiful 1997 memoir I Saw Ramallah. The book opens with Barghouti crossing the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River into Palestine after 30 years of exile. Barghouti describes stepping out of a Jordanian border post and glancing west across the bridge at the land of Palestine:


Who would dare make it into an abstraction now that it has declared its physical self to the senses?

It is no longer “the beloved” in the poetry of resistance, or an item on a political party program, it is not an
argument or a metaphor. It stretches before me, as touchable as a scorpion, a bird, a well; visible as a field of chalk, as the prints of shoes.

I asked myself, what is so special about it except that we have lost it?

 

At the beginning of Pay No Heed, I follow Barghouti’s footsteps across the same bridge, and my biggest regret in working on this book was that I never got to meet Barghouti personally.

I soon will. I just learned Mourid Barghouti and I will be sharing a stage at Liverpool’s Writing on the Wall Festival this May. We will discuss his life, his work, and the themes we both address in our writing. I couldn’t be more excited.

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