One of the foremost Palestinian poets and a major figure in the Arab 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. He has also written novels, plays, and numerous essays, and has worked for years as an editor and journalist. 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. His first English collection, Sadder Than Water, was published recently by Ibis Editions in Jerusalem; the book (translated by Nazih Kassis) collects poems from his various periods and modes and presents readers with 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.
– from Nazih Kassis’ introduction in MPT 3/9 Palestine
– photo from Wikipedia