“The first Lebanese village I remember was Rmeish. Then we lived in Jezzine until the snow fell. While living there, I saw an enormous waterfall for the first time in my life. Then we moved to Al-Na’emah near Damour. I remember that period very well—the sea and the banana fields. I was six but I remember it well. My eyes still have memories of those scenes. We were waiting the war to end in order to return to our villages. My grandfather and father knew that wasn’t happening. We snuck back with a Palestinian guide who knew the secret pathways to the north of Galilee. We stayed at a friend’s house until we discovered that our village Al-Birweh no longer existed”. The Darwish family found their village destroyed. In its place a moshavAhihud and a kibbutz Yas’ur were built.
“We couldn’t return to our own village, so we lived as refugees in a village called Deir al-Asad in the north. We were called refugees and had great difficulty obtaining residency cards, because we got in 'illegally’— meaning that we had been absent when the Israelis registered the Palestinian population. Our legal status according to Israeli law was 'present absentee,’ meaning that we were physically present, but without papers. Our lands were taken and we lived as refugees.”
Darwish then lived in Haifa after his family moved to a new village called Al-Jdaideh, where they owned a house. He said “I lived in Haifa for 10 years and I finished my high school studies. Then I worked as an editor for Al-Itihad newspaper. I was not allowed to leave Haifa for 10 years— I was under forced residency. We got our identification cards back. At first, the ID cards were red, then they were blue, and the blue cards almost looked like residency cards. I was forbidden from leaving Haifa for 10 years. From 1967 until 1970, I was not allowed to leave my house. The police had the right to come at night and make sure I was still at home. I was arrested and released without trial every year. Eventually, I had to get away.”
Darwish joined the Israeli Communist Party and worked in the party’s media department- including newspapers owned by the party, Al-Itihad and Al-Jadeed. He later became the editor of Al-Jadeed. He was accused of hostile activities against the state of Israel. He was hunted and detained five times by Israeli forces: first in 1961, and again in 1965, 1966, 1967, and 1969. He lived under forced residency until 1970.
Mahmoud Darwish had unconventional ideas about his own biography. “First, what matters to the reader about my biography is in my poems. There is a saying that every musical poem is an autobiography, while another theory states a reader doesn’t need to know the autobiography of a poet to understand and connect with his poetry. Second, I would like to feel that my autobiography has a benefit. I don’t need to hide that my biography is ordinary. I don’t like to complain much about personal life and its problems. Neither do I want to show off. Sometimes an autobiography pushes a person to show off, where the writer view themselves as a different persons. I wrote features from my biography in prose books such as Journal of an Ordinary Grief and Memory for Forgetfulness, especially about my childhood and the Nakba.”
- Destination: Moscow
- Destination: Cairo
- Destination: Beirut
- Destination: Tunisia/Paris
- Destination Amman/Ramallah
- The Daily Rituals of Writing
- The Dice Player and His Hobbies
- Darwish’s World
- World of Coffee
- Book Signing
- Darwish’s Death
* Investigating YahyaQaisi. Interviews with Zureikat Ghanem, Ali Helila ,Basma Nsoor, Tahir Riaz, Zuhair Shayeb, and others in Arab Jerusalem.
* Mahmoud Darwish in a comprehensive dialogue about poetry and modernity - Interviewed by: Abdo and Zahn - Al-Hayat 14/12/2005.