Taha Muhammad Ali

A charismatic personality and a writer of remarkable gifts, Taha Muhammad Ali has lived through the many stages of the Israeli–Arab conflict, and his poetry emerges directly from the crucible of that tragedy.  He was born in 1931 in the village of Saffuriyya, Galilee. At 17 he fled to Lebanon with his family after the village came under heavy bombardment during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948. A year later they slipped back across the border and settled in Nazareth, where he has lived ever since. An autodidact, he owns a souvenir shop now run by his sons near Nazareth’s Church of the Annunciation. In Israel, in the West Bank and Gaza, and in Europe and in America, audiences have been powerfully moved by Taha Muhammad Ali’s poems of political complexity and humanity. He has published several collections of poetry and one volume of short stories.

A late-comer to publication—he was already in his fifties when he published his first volume of poems—Muhammad Ali is now one of the leading poets on the contemporary Palestinian literary scene. He is the author of five books of poems in Arabic and a volume of short stories. An English selection of his work—So What: New & Selected Poems, 1971–2005—was published to wide acclaim in the United States and has just been released in the U.K. by Bloodaxe Books. A biography of Taha Muhammad Ali, My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness: A Poet’s Life in the Palestinian Century, by Adina Hoffman, was published by Yale University Press in 2009.

– from the introduction in MPT Series 3/8 ‘Getting it Across’ and Inpress Books UK with permission