Mourid Barghouti Passes Away – Poetry News February 16th

Today we bring you an article about the death of a prominent Palestinian poet.

Leading Palestinian Poet Dies Aged 77

Mourid Barghouti, a leading Palestinian poet has died at the age of 77. His death was announced by the poet’s son, the Arab poet Tamin Barghouti, who announced that his father had passed away on Sunday at his home in Amman, the capital of Jordan. There was no mention of the cause of his death.

Atef Abu Saif, the Palestinian Minister of Culture said that with the death of the poet the Arab world and Palestinian people had lost “a symbol of national struggle and creativity”.

Barghouti was born on 8th July in 1944 in Deir Ghassanah, a Palestinian village that is located on the outskirts of Ramallah a city on the occupied West Bank. His birth was four years before the ethnic cleansing, Nakba, that took place in Palestine and lead to the almost complete destruction of the Palestinian society whilst the state of Israel was being established in 1948.

That which remained following this period was first occupied and then later following the 1967 war, annexed.

In 1963, and prior to the war, Barghouti moved to the capital of Egypt where he studied for a degree in English Literature at the University of Cairo. When he graduated in 1967, he was not able to return to Ramallah – this period of time when he was unable to return home lasted for 30 years.

Barghouti was a champion of the cause of the Palestinian people and spent many years writing about the Israeli occupation of his homeland. He moved around a lot over the years, living in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan before finally returning to Egypt.

On his return to Egypt, he met Radwa Ashour, an acclaimed Egyptian academic, novelist and scholar who became his wife. She died in 2014.

“I Saw Ramallah” is his critically acclaimed autobiographical novel. It tells the tales of his life in exile. It was inspired by the return that he was eventually able to make to Ramallah after the signing of the Oslo Accords which took place in the 1990s. The novel was translated from Egyptian into English by Ahdaf Soueif and has been described as one of the best existential accounts of a Palestinian displacement by Edward Said.

“I Was Born There; I Was Born Here” was his second novel and was written after he and his only son had returned to Ramallah. This has also been translated into English.

In addition to his 2 novels, he also published 12 collections of poetry. He travelled all over the world, lecturing on Arab and Palestinian poetry and reading his own poetry.

Barghouti did not identify with any political party although he was a member of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation. He served for several years as the cultural attaché for the group in Budapest, Hungary.

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