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Midnight and Other Poems

by Mourid Barghouti

Bilingual English / Arabic edition

Translated from the Arabic by Radwa Ashour
Introduced by Guy Mannes-Abbott
Preface by Ruth Padel

Part of our Arc Translations series edited by Jean Boase-Beier

Midnight and Other Poems

Midnight and Other Poems is the first full-length poetry collection to be published in the UK by this remarkable Palestinian writer, previously known to English-language readers for his highly-acclaimed autobiography I Saw Ramallah (Bloomsbury, 2004).

Mourid Barghouti has spent many years in exile, and his long poem 'Midnight' is a rich montage of images of the land of his birth and the strong emotional responses to which these images give rise. Here, anger, frustration and despair are juxtaposed with yearning and tenderness in Barghouti's powerful and evocative account of occupation, violence and oppression. The shorter poems which comprise the second half of the book are, by turns, dramatic and hard-hitting, contemplative and reflective, and together present an equally powerful and graphic picture of the poet's homeland.

In Radwa Ashour's excellent translation, and with a helpful introduction by Guy Mannes-Abbott who recorded a number of conversations with the poet over a period of several weeks, this selection of Mourid Barghouti's poems marks an important addition to the body of Arabic literature available to English-language readers world-wide.

There is not a single line of propaganda in this book. You will search in vain for any didactic message about Israel-Palestine politics. The only poem clearly prompted by a public event, the televised killing of a small boy by occupying forces on the West Bank, segues into a poignant ghost story in which dream - and dream alone - redeems an accursed time.

Instead of polemic and accusation, Barghouti fashions harrowing elegies, mordant ironies, and a gallows humour as bitter as the coffee grounds marking one of the small rituals that help make the days of dispossession bearable. He quotes Yeats and Shakespeare; he can sound, in his weary, sardonic pluck, much like Auden or Brecht.

Boyd Tonkin, The Independent, January 2009

Watch Barghouti reading from Midnight and Other Stories at the Prague Writer's festival 2009.

ISBN: 978-1-904614-68-5 (pbk), 978-1- 1906570-08-8 (hbk)
Dimensions: 138 x 216 mm
Pages: 244
Genre: Contemporary poetry (bilingual Arabic / English)
Published December 2008