Sadder Than Water

by Qasim, Samih Al-

One of the foremost Palestinian poets and a major figure in the Arabi world, Samih al-Qasim was born in 1939, in Zarqa, Jordan, to a Palestinian Druze family from the Galilee. He grew up in the village of Rama and experienced the Palestinian tragedy of 1948 first hand, achieving fame as one of the celebrated resistance poets during the 1950s. His first book was published when he was just eighteen, and over the decades he has produced a body of work that is as varied and innovative as it is large. Today a citizen of Israel and still a resident of Rama, Samih al-Qasim is an outspoken opponent of racism and oppression on all sides of the Middle East conflict. Given the richness of al-Qasim’s work, and its centrality to Arabic literature, it is surprising that his poetry remains almost unknown in English to non-specialists. This bilingual collection will, it is hoped, help to correct that state of affairs, since one cannot really claim to understand modern Palestinian letters without reading Samih al-Qasim. Sadder Than Water gathers poems from his various periods and modes and makes available to English readers for the first time ever the full range of al-Qasim’s oeuvre, which is characterized by its ironic approach to painfully charged political situations, its melancholy music, and its lyrical evocation of Palestinian heritage.