June 13

Palestinian reading list #1: “Interpretations”

Mourid Barghouti (photo credit Peter Everard Smith)   I am going to start posting regular selections from some of the Palestinian literature I am reading for my current book project. The first is a poem by Mourid Barghouti, and translated by Radwa Ashour, entitled “Interpretations.”  Barghouti is a fine poet, but perhaps is best known […]

April 29

Palestine Dispatch: On the land

  I realized early on during the research for this book that I was spending a disproportionate time sitting in urban cafes talking to Palestinian poets as they hand-rolled and chain-smoked cigarettes. Since the conflict here is, arguably, first and foremost one about land, I worried I wasn’t seeing very much of it. I love […]

April 22

Palestine Dispatch: The writers of Haifa

I spent a few days this week in Haifa. I was interested in learning what it means to be a Palestinian writer in what most Palestinians call “48” – shorthand for the territory Palestine lost in 1948 to what became the state of Israel. I spoke to a few “48” writers during my visit last […]

Palestine Dispatch: The Poet of Sheikh Jarrah

Mohammed El Kurd’s mother used to read poems aloud to her husband in their house in the East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood. She sought his feedback before sending the poems to her editor at the newspaper she wrote for. When Mohammed was a child, he woke each morning to the sound of these tentative verses […]

April 10

Palestine Dispatch: Arriving

I arrived in Palestine about a week ago for what will be, if all goes well, my last research trip in service of my new book project. My welcome at Tel Aviv’s Ben Gurion airport was typical. With very few exceptions, the procedure for me goes as follows. The airport customs official, nearly always a […]

December 09

Trump and Gaza

I’ve just returned from a two month research trip to Gaza. I am having a hard time reading Donald Trump’s comments about prohibiting Muslims from entering the United States without thinking of what is happening in Gaza right now. Israel allows very few of Gaza’s 1.8-million residents – nearly all Muslims – to enter Israel. […]

November 27

Gaza Dispatch: Leaving

I always feel a sort of melancholy at the end of a long trip. But tonight, my last in Gaza, feels different than those other last nights. This is because leaving Gaza is a privilege afforded to very few. For all the anxiety of crossing Erez back and forth – the gathering of permits and […]