Amal El-Mohtar said such fine things about Najwan Darwish’s Nothing More to Lose that I resolved upon the instant to get a copy.
I don’t normally read poetry collections cover-to-cover. I own a handful only, that I dip into from time to time: Cavafy, Odysseus Elytis, Osip Mandelshtan, Yeats, Heaney, Eliot, Adrienne Rich, Pablo Neruda, some of the ancient poets (I keep meaning to get my hands on some of the twentieth century’s famous women poets’ collections, like St. Vincent Millay and Plath – some day soon!) but not many.
Nothing More to Lose, I read every page. These are gorgeous, glorious poems: the translator has done a brilliant job.
Powerful poems; some funny, some touching, some filled with pain and a kind of elegaic anger – like the last five lines of “Sleeping in Gaza”:
The earth is three nails
and mercy a hammer:
Strike with the planes
Are there any more to come?
or the three brief lines that comprise the entirety of “In Praise of the Family”:
There is but a single sentence fit to praise you:
You are the deep quarry
of my nightmares.
Some of his poems are available online, here. Read them. Especially “Jerusalem.”
When I leave you I turn to stone
and when I come back I turn to stone
I name you Medusa
I name you the older sister of Sodom and Gomorrah
you baptismal basin that burned Rome.