Dear Followers, Friends, fellow Workers:

I have just begun a new blog/zine called
Chirot Zero Zine A Heap of Rubble--
Anarkeyology of hand eye ear notations
the blog is more exusively concerned than this one with presenting essays, reviews (inc. "bad reviews") , Visual Poetry, Sound Poetry, Event Scores, Manifestos, Manifotofestos, rantin' & raving, rock'roll, music all sorts--by myself and others--if you are interested in being a contributor, please feel free to contact me at
as with this blog, the arts are investigated as a part of rather than apart from the historical, economic, political actualities of yesterday, today, & tomorrow
as with al my blogs--
contributions in any language are welcome

Free Leonard Peltier

Free Leonard Peltier
The government under pretext of security and progress, liberated us from our land, resources, culture, dignity and future. They violated every treaty they ever made with us. I use the word “liberated” loosely and sarcastically, in the same vein that I view the use of the words “collateral damage” when they kill innocent men, women and children. They describe people defending their homelands as terrorists, savages and hostiles . . . My words reach out to the non-Indian: Look now before it is too late—see what is being done to others in your name and see what destruction you sanction when you say nothing. --Leonard Peltier, Annual Message January 2004 (Leonard Peltier is now serving 31st year as an internationally recognized Political Prisoner of the United States Government)

Injustice Continues: Leonard Peltier Again Denied Parole

# Injustice continues: Leonard Peltier denied parole‎ - By Mahtowin A wave of outrage swept the progressive community worldwide at the news that Native political prisoner Leonard Peltier was denied parole on Aug. ... Workers World - 2 related articles » US denies parole to American Indian activist Leonard Peltier‎ - AFP - 312 related articles » # Free Leonard Peltier 2009 PRISON WRITINGS...My Life Is My Sun Dance Leonard Peltier © 1999. # Prison Writings: My Life Is My Sun Dance - by Leonard Peltier, Harvey Arden - 2000 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages Edited by Harvey Arden, with an Introduction by Chief Arvol Looking Horse, and a Preface by former Attorney General Ramsey Clark. In 1977, Leonard Peltier... - # Leonard Peltier, American Indian Activist, Denied Parole And Won't ... Aug 21, 2009 ... BISMARCK, ND — American Indian activist Leonard Peltier, imprisoned since 1977 for the deaths of two FBI agents, has been denied parole ... - Cached - Similar - #

Gaza--War Crime: Collective Punishment of 1.5 Million Persons--Recognized as "The World's Largest Concentration Camp"

Number of Iraquis Killed Since USA 2003 Invasion began

Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator

US & International Personnel losses in Iraq &Afghanistan; Costs of the 2 Wars to US

Number of U.S. Military Personnel Sacrificed (Officially acknowledged) In America's War On Iraq: 4,667

Number Of International Occupation Force Troops Slaughtered In Afghanistan : 1,453


Cost of War in Iraq


Cost of War in Afghanistan

The cost in your community

flickr: DEATH FROM THIS WINDOW/DOORS OF GUANTANAMO--Essays, Links, Video-- US use of Torture

VISUAL POETRY/MAIL ART CALL Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

Cracking World’s Walls & Codes Concrete & Virtual

No Sieges, Tortures, Starvation & Surveillance
Deadline/Fecha Limite: SinsLimite/ongoing
Size: No limit/Sin Limite
No Limit on Number of Works sent
No Limit on Number of Times New Works Are Sent
Documentation: on my blog
David Baptiste Chirot
740 N 29 #108
Milwaukee, WI 53208

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'

Miss Universe Visits Guantanamo: 'A Loooot Of Fun!'

The current 'Miss Universe' Dayana Mendoza (formerly Miss Venezuela) and 'Miss America' Crystal Stewart visited US troops stationed in Guantanamo Bay on March 20th, the New York Times reports. Here's Mendoza's account of the visit from her pageant blog last Friday. She says the trip "was a loooot of fun!"

This week, Guantánamo!!! It was an incredible experience...All the guys from the Army were amazing with us. We visited the Detainees camps and we saw the jails, where they shower, how the recreate themselves with movies, classes of art, books. It was very interesting. We took a ride with the Marines around the land to see the division of Gitmo and Cuba while they were informed us with a little bit of history.

The water in Guantánamo Bay is soooo beautiful! It was unbelievable, we were able to enjoy it for at least an hour. We went to the glass beach, and realized the name of it comes from the little pieces of broken glass from hundred of years ago. It is pretty to see all the colors shining with the sun. That day we met a beautiful lady named Rebeca who does wonders with the glasses from the beach. She creates jewelry with it and of course I bought a necklace from her that will remind me of Guantánamo Bay :)

I didn't want to leave, it was such a relaxing place, so calm and beautiful.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New Extreme Experimental & Language Poetries: "The Manchurian Candidate" is Alive and Well: China Inspired Interrogations at Guantanamo----NY Times

China Inspired Interrogations at Guantanamo
An interrogation class at Guantánamo Bay was based on a 1957 study of Chinese Communist techniques used to obtain confessions, often false, from U.S. prisoners.

Another example of the New Extreme Experimental American Poetry:

Using a 1957 Chinese Manual as it were, (based on surviving soldiers' reports) for instructing interrogators, the Americans claim that though they copied a Chinese Torture How-To Book, the Guantanamo-carried out copying of its teachings is "NOT torture."

This raises an interesting question: does the translation and copying of texts absolve the texts of the "evil" of the Original?

Does this mean that when the Chinese used the Manual it was "Real" torture, but when Americans use the translated copy, it is NOT "real" torture but a kind of "play acting"? A Simulation of torture being taken to be "not the same thing" as the Original?

Kind of like the "play acting" and "horsing around" that was photographed at Abu Ghraib? Which after all, was just "guys and gals having fun," and a sort of "Experimental Art Project Combining Performance and Photography"?

Interestingly, the same methods used in both the Chinese and American cases are also used by De programmers of followers of Religious Cults since the 1970's.

Might that not mean that what the Americans are doing is simply deprogramming, and not torture at all?

In Naomi Klein's book The Shock Doctrine, she links the use of the extreme methods used in shock therapies by an eventually CIA funded Montreal researcher with the "Shock Doctrine" of Milton Friedman's Chicago School Economics applied to "sick economies and nations" beginning with Pinochet's Chile and extending to the present day methods used in New Orleans, Iraq, Palestine, Abu Ghraib, Guanatanamo and hundreds of secret prison around the world. (The United States having over 700 bases on foreign soil has the immense capability of constructing the world's largest ever dreamed of prison and "deprogramming" network.)

Since these economic policies greatly favor only a small percentage of the population, "Democracy" has to be imposed by force and repression in order for the "Free Market" to flourish.

In order for the few to be "Free" economically of any of the bounds imposed on the great great many, torture, disappearances, mass murders become "necessary."

Since the Americans are bringing "Democracy" to the world, torture is no longer torture, but instead becomes "the necessary work of Freedom."

Despite the well known fact that torture hardly ever "gives up" information of much of any use, American policies Stand Tall behind the use of these methods. Since the Americans have claimed they are actually obtaining information that is "Making the Homeland Safe," they have thereby turned "useless torture" into "beneficial and useful methods of information gathering."

One of the goals of Shock Therapy, the Shock Doctrine and Shock and Awe considered as a Gesamtkunstwerk (Total Art Work)is to break down the "sick individual, the sick nation, the sick politico-economic structures" until the patient's identity, thinking and physical condition is broken completely down.

Once this "Ground Zero" of being has been reached, the work of Freedom can begin--the creation of the new being Freed from all its former sicknesses, eager and bursting with energy and joy to commence its New Life.

The New Life!! A kind of Zombie existence as an Obedient Servant, Worker, Slave, Soldier doing the biddings of the Masters unquestioningly.

From a "Voodoo Economics," one develops a Voodoo State in which the creation of Zombies out of former "troublemakers" becomes routine.

"Freedom" becomes the blessing of a New Life as one of the Living Dead.

The mission of the New Extreme Experimental American Poetry is greatly aided by the introduction of the Conceptual elements of Copied Manuals of Former Enemies. The "torture" of the original Chinese text is converted into an American "Radical Innovative Formalist Poetics" which rather than destroying Individuals in a Ground Zero Environment, instead raises them from the Death Cults of the Unfree ("Islamo-Fascism," "Terrorism," "Insurgency") into the Redemption of being among the Living Dead.

In short, what is being performed at Guantanamo really is NOT torture, but "de programming."

In a 1994 essay on "The Work of Poetry," the "Language" Poet Charles Bernstein concludes that the work of (a "radical, innovative") poetry is "social work."

"Dark at End" image from Charles Bernstein Blog

Poetry as social work becomes part of the American State's apparatus. To "do good" in the world in these terms is arrived at through a conversion of the language of poetry into one of a "public policy" in which "transgressions" of grammar, genre, tropes are practised in order to produce a "liberated reader" now "allowed to be the producer of her own meanings."

Since the methods used direct the reader into a realization of Language Poetry as the only True Writing, the meanings readers are so generously "allowed to make," will only be recognized as "good" if they conform to the template.

Guantanamo: Detainee being led to Language Cell for "Post-Deprogramming Re-Education"

The reader is "liberated' into a New Consciousness in language--one that reflects the Power & Glory of the Authorities and obeys unquestioningly, like the Zombies produced (or not) by the deprogrammers at Guantanamo Bay.

To question these methods and this Language is to question Freedom and must be eliminated, as an enemy of Freedom.

To be Free, one must become Unfree, unquestioning of Authorities and Authors, just as to be Alive means to be Undead.

The New Extreme Experimental American Poetry employs an Extreme Experimental Language in which readers are allowed to produce their own meanings because of the celebration of poetic "meaninglessness." Rather than becoming "radical, innovative" subjects, they are turned into the Zombie inhabitants of a Ground Zero
in which "insurgents," "terrorists," "enemy combatants," must all be "rendered" Null and Void.

Of course, Language Poetry, like the Americans' use of in effect a Chinese Manual, absolves itself of any "wrong doing," by the advocating of "non-referentiality." On the one hand, to change the grammar, syntax and sentence structures of language is supposed to change the world; on the other, not to employ referentiality means that the effects in the world are not "the fault of Language." Instead, the "evil aspects" are the fault of the Chinese or of the Government or of Mainstream Poetry.

This Language which is on the one hand "world changing" and on the other "non-referential" is an example of Orwell's double talk Newspeak, in which contradictory meanings are joined together in one word or phrase in order to cancel the contradictions and make once opposing terms be "equalized." "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E literally spells out this idea. Using this "equalizing" method, one no longer questions the contradiction in "to change language is to change the world," when at the same time the world-changing language is "non-referential."

(Not to mention "meaningless," "non-narrative," "non-historical," "non-lyric self" --a series of negations turned into equal signs in order to produce the effect of "Changing everything so that nothing is changed.")

The elimination of contradictions produces a poetry which is at once "risk taking" and perfectly safe for being hired by institutions. A language of "resistance' which conforms to all the required State standards. A language of "radical" innovations designed to be the Feng Shui rearrangements of Office Furniture, the use of immense bean bag chairs a la Jenny Holzer for the laid back contemplation of the "resistance" of language as a Stadium sized light show. A language of "opaque surfaces resistant to transparency," not unlike the uses of "impenetrable bureaucrateese" to "cover up" things which the public demands to be made "transparent," in the name of holding accountable those responsible for crimes against humanity.

The New Extreme Experimental American Poetry is a project in which the analogies and inter connections of events in the world are considered in relation with the events in language. In order for persons to accept this "Free" America and the "Free World"
how much "unfreedom" in language is required? Is a world changing non-referentiality a method to "appear radical" while at the same conforming? A method for being "resistant" while at the same time not only accepting State institutions, but creating for them a language which will not "activate" physical resistance? A method in short, for creating a language which absolves itself and its users from any "responsibility" for which one might have to be held accountable?

That is, one's "resistance" being a matter of syntax, meaninglessness, non-referentiality, can it not be safely argued that one has not in any way interfered with the daily functioning of the State and all its institutions?

"Companies have recognized the fact that a more comfortable and less formal place to work actually encourages people to up their work rate as well as enabling creativity to flourish."

So it is that the methods of non-torture at Guantanamo are cleverly "non-referential" vis-a-vis an American text,as the referentiality in terms of torture was done by the Chinese and their text.

The further the distance created between "our language" and "theirs", the further "we" become "not like them." "Their torture" becomes "our non-torture." In poetry, "their mainstream poetry," is "not our radical poetry." To create these distances between "us" and "them," it is necessary to employ a language of denials, omissions, doubletalk, in which things that are contradictory are equalized and things that are the same are split open in order to claim the "difference between us and them."

Language becomes a method of convincing oneself and others that a world of appearances is "more real" than the world as it exists. In this way, one can ignore what is before one's own eyes, and cling to the persistance of illusions which are "signs taken for wonders" as Marx called them.

And in this way, censorships become ever more necessary--and disappearances, renditions, secrecy, surveillance, ever more prisoners, profilings, the propagations of propagandas disguised as "ethics" and the non-stop production of faked evidences, "news," "photos," and "recordings." All of these help greatly in the continual construction of distances in order to isolate a population and make it believe that the world is "what we make of it and call it." And that anyone who says otherwise must be a terrorist of some kind.

Arrival of flight carrying John Walker Lindh, the "American Taliban"

China Inspired Interrogations at Guantanamo
An interrogation class at Guantánamo Bay was based on a 1957 study of Chinese Communist techniques used to obtain confessions, often false, from U.S. prisoners.




Collecting More Data on Foreign Travelers : PROJECT PANOPTICON USA

Collecting More Data on Foreign Travelers:

The Department of Homeland Security is studying how best to implement a little-noticed congressional mandate to gather, search, and store biometric data from all foreign visitors leaving the country. The objective is to collect better data on foreigners who violate the law while in the country or who overstay their visas.


Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons Video Report

Torture Inc. Americas Brutal Prisons Video Report

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Video

In Case You Missed It

Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land

U.S. Media & the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Video - How Israel manipulates and distorts American public perceptions

Through the voices of scholars, media critics, peace activists, religious figures, and Middle East experts, Peace, Propaganda & the Promised Land carefully analyzes and explains how--through the use of language, framing and context--the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza remains hidden in the news media, and Israeli colonization of the occupied terrorities appears to be a defensive move rather than an offensive one.

Click to view

Free Gaza Boats Under Electronic Piracy

Free Gaza Boats Under Electronic Piracy

Posted: 23 Aug 2008 03:44 AM CDT

A Statement from the International Human Rights Workers Aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty, Sailing to Gaza

(10am, 23 August, 2008) At 10am this morning, the Cyprus team of the Free Gaza Movement was able to briefly speak with our people on board the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty. They are all fine, and they asked us to release the following statement:

"The electronic systems which guarantee our safety aboard the SS Free Gaza and SS Liberty have been jammed and scrambled. Both ships are flying Greek flags, and are in international waters. We are the victims of electronic piracy. We are currently in GMS P area A2 and we are relying on our satellite communications equipment to make a distress call, if needed.

We are civilians from 17 nations and are on this project to break the siege of Gaza. We are not experienced sailors. As a result, there is concern about the health and safety of the people on board such an emergency develop.

We are currently experiencing rough sea conditions, and we call on the Greek government and the international community to meet their responsibilities and protect the civilians on board our two ships in international waters."


ACTION 1: I just made my donation as a expression of support, please consider making yours.

ACTION 2: Although Israel is jamming the communications with the boats, it is worth trying. Ask your local media to make phone contact with the ships. Satellite phone numbers available on the boats are: a) 00 870 773 160 151; b) 00 870 773 160 156; c) 00 881 651 442 553; d) 00 881 651 427 948.

Last but not least: Pray for their safety and success in their mission.

Free Gaza NOW!

aa flickr set--

The Longest Walk 2 goes through Taos

new John Held Jr. book from REDFOXPRESS

Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 11:17:41 +0100
Subject: new John Held Jr. book


Latest publication

for more information about the book .. click on the cover


"We'll Chop His Suey When He's Gone"
Homage to Ray Johnson

Number 23 in our collection for visual poetry,
experimental texts and works influenced by dada and fluxus

A6 format (10.5x15 cm / 4 x 6") - 40 pages
hardcover, thread and quarter cloth binding
laser printing on ivory paper.
price: 15 euro / 20 US $ / 10 UK Sterling each

order your copy by email
or subscribe to the collection
and receive each book with invoice.
No postage charged.

Francis Van Maele
Dugort, Achill Island, County Mayo, Ireland



Dugort, Achill Island
County Mayo, Ireland

BLOG - or
Tel.: 00353 - (0)98 - 43784

Recent publications:
Visual Poetry collection:
Last mail art call:

fairs and exhibitions:

University of Leeds, 11th Artist's Book Fair, 7-8 march 2008
Samwon Paper Gallery, Jung Gok, Seoul, 5 april-10 may 2008
Glasgow International Artist's Book Fair, 25-26 april 2008
Phoenix Gallery, Brighton, 27 april-7 june 2008
Seoul 5th Artists' Book Fair, 15-19 mai 2008
Galerie der Buchkunst, Gutenberg Museum, Mainz, 31 mai-1 june 2008
Seoul, Gana Space, Insadong, 3-9 september 2008
Frankfurter Book Fair, booth 4.1.L128, 15-19 october 2008
Small Publishers book fair, Conway Hall, London, 24-25 October 2008
Manchester; 2nd Artist's book fair, 8 november 2008

Get thousands of games on your PC, your mobile phone, and the web with Windows®. Game with Windows

proyectos recientes boek861/ agosto 2008

Date: Sat, 23 Aug 2008 12:10:49 +0200
Subject: proyectos recientes boek861/ agosto 2008


Poetas Visuales a la busqueda de su identidad por C. Reglero

Eddie (J. Bermudez) / El Poeta Centrífugo o el hilo de Ariadna

Boletin electronico Boek861 n. 200808 / Las otras olimpiadas ...//...

Documentacion sobre poesia visual y accionismo en el 2008

Poesia Visual y Experimentacion en España / 1965-1997-2008

Gustavo Vega: Pasion Poetica y Visual

Boletin Electronico Boek 861 n. 130808 / Ediciones y noticias

Carles Garcia Tomillero: Adeu Amic

Bertomeu Ferrando en el Festival Carello de Videocreacion /Tarragona

El día en que conoci a Francisco Peralto senti la necesidad de ...

25 COSAS revista hipoalergénica-digital de Poesía Visual

Jose Luis Garcia Muedra/ La poetica visual del sentimiento profundo

Paraules per la Pau P X P / Un proyecto de arte por la Paz

Boek 861/ 020808 / Mail Art Sarajevo Ferida Oberta y ultimas noticias

Manoel Bonabal: pienso que todos somos artistas postales ...//...

IBIRICO-I30 & REGLERO-E20 /Colectivo furtivo de accion directa

TRILOGIA: Francisco, Carmen y Rafael Peralto /Una saga de Poetas

Muestra y edicion de Poesia Visual en el Instituto Cervantes de Fez

Eduardo Barbero un poeta visual emergente

Tertulias de arte y Jornada performatica en Cunit / TDS/ Cal Cego

Boletin eléctonico Boek861 n. 080708 / Convocatorias

Boletin Electronico del Boek 861 n. 250708

Poesía Visual en el centro penitenciario de El Dueso / Uv. Cantabria

Dan Buck o de como combinar el mail art y el net art

Un encendido debate sobre subastas de Mail Art

GGMarx / Una intensa vida en el mail art

¿Es posible comercializar el Mail Art? / Manifiesto / G.G. Marx

Silvia Lissa / Mail Art y Poesía Visual ¿Dónde están los límites?

Ibirico: el Mail Art visto desde el aire

Historias personales de Arte Postal, Performance, C. Padín

Mi relación con el Mail Art es muy peculiar / César Espino Barros

Martha Aitchison THE SHOPPING TROLLEY GALLERY y el mail art

La experiencia personal de Sergi Quiñonero en el Mail Art (1993-2008)

Vittore Baroni : Un proyecto integral de ARTE POSTALE

Geneología del Mair Art / Merz Mail - Industrias MiKuerpo (Ev)

El mail art visto por Antonio Sassu (Gruppo Sinestético)

Homenaje de Tiziana Baracchi a Pig Mail Art DaDa (Baudhuin Simon)

Arte de Acción -Arte paralelo- Mail Art /Nelo Vilar / TDS

Mi vivencia en el Arte Correo / Narración de Jorge Restrepo


video: shandels --- "gorilla."--Garage Punk Brut!!!!

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garage punk from teenage shutdown.
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video: Linton Kwesi Johnson "Street 66" from LKJ in DUB

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Linton Kwesi Johnson

video: "Scientist - Drum Song Dub" Righteous Dub--Favorite

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Scientific Dub

Mixing Engineer : Scientist

Producer : Brad Osbourne

Drums : Santa Davis & Sly Dunbar
Bass : Mikey Dread & Robbie Shakespeare & Aston Barrett & Bagga Walker
Rhythm Guitar : Tony Chin & Little D & Aston Barrett & Eric Frater
Lead Guitar : Willie Lindo
Piano : Touter Harvey & Augustus Pablo & Gladstone Anderson
Organ : Winston Wright & Ossie Hibbert
Horns : Ossie Scott
Percussions : Brad Osbourne & Scully Simms

Studios :
Mixing : King Tubby's (Kingston, JA)
© 2008 YouTube, LLC

video: "Interpreter speaks about largest raid in US history-1/2"

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Court Interpreter Breaks Confidentiality Code to Speak Out for Workers Rounded Up in Largest Immigration Raid in U.S. History

On May 12th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested nearly 400 workers at a meatpacking plant in Postville, Iowa in the largest immigration raid in US history. Many were sent to prison. We speak with Erik Camayd-Freixas, a professor and Spanish-language court interpreter who was flown into Iowa for the trial. He broke the code of confidentiality among legal interpreters to describe the workers' predicament in what he calls "the saddest procession I have ever witnessed." He says most of the workers were peasants from Guatemala and did not fully understand the criminal charges they were facing. He also says that court-appointed lawyers had little time to meet with the workers, many of whom ended up waiving their rights. [includes rush transcript]
© 2008 YouTube, LLC

video: Bards-"Alibis" Great Sixties Punk

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Revista Ping Pong 8

Date: Wed, 20 Aug 2008 08:22:01 -0400
Subject: Revista Ping Pong 8

Ya se encuentra en línea la Revista Ping Pong #
Para este número la revista cuenta con el siguiente contenido:
por Frank Báez
Por Darío Jaramillo Agudelo
por Raúl Hernández

Get ideas on sharing photos from people like you. Find new ways to share. Get Ideas Here!

video: "Makin`Deals" - Satans--the Faustian Garage Punk Pact

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Mahmoud Darwish----by translator Fady Joudah -- from the Academy of American Poets

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

the Academy of American Poets
Mahmoud Darwish

Mahmoud Darwish was born on March 13, 1942 in Al Birweh, Palestine, into a land-owning Sunni Muslim family. During the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, his village was destroyed and his family fled to Lebanon. They returned the following year, secretly re-entering Israel.

As a young man, Darwish faced house arrest and imprisonment for his political activism and for publicly reading his poetry. He joined the official Communist Party of Israel, the Rakah, in the 1960s. In 1970, he left for Russia, where he attended the University of Moscow for one year, and then moved to Cairo. He lived in exile for twenty-six years, between Beirut and Paris, until his return to Israel in 1996, after which he settled in Ramallah in the West Bank.

Considered Palestine's most eminent poet, Darwish published his first collection of poems, Leaves of Olives, in 1964, when he was 22. Since then, Darwish has published approximately thirty poetry and prose collections which have been translated into more than twenty-two languages.

Some of his more recent poetry titles include The Butterfly's Burden (Copper Canyon Press, 2006), Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems (2003), Stage of Siege (2002), The Adam of Two Edens (2001), Mural (2000), Bed of the Stranger (1999), Psalms (1995), Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? (1994), and The Music of Human Flesh (1980).

Darwish was an editor for a Palestine Liberation Organization monthly journal and the director of the group's research center. In 1987 he was appointed to the PLO executive committee, and resigned in 1993 in opposition to the Oslo Agreement. He served as the editor-in-chief and founder of the literary review Al-Karmel, published out of the Sakakini Centre since 1997

About Darwish's work, the poet Naomi Shihab Nye has said, "Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world's whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world—his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered."

His awards and honors include the Ibn Sina Prize, the Lenin Peace Prize, the 1969 Lotus prize from the Union of Afro-Asian Writers, France's Knight of Arts and Belles Lettres medal in 1997, the 2001 Prize for Cultural Freedom from the Lannan Foundation, the Moroccan Wissam of intellectual merit handed to him by King Mohammad VI of Morocco, and the USSR's Stalin Peace Prize.

Darwish died on August 9, 2008, in Houston, TX, after complications from heart surgery.

Darwish, Mahmoud

Poems found:
A Noun Sentence by Mahmoud Darwish
A noun sentence, no verb
I Belong There by Mahmoud Darwish
I belong there. I have many memories. I was born as everyone is born.
I Didn't Apologize to the Well by Mahmoud Darwish
I didn't apologize to the well when I passed the well
In Jerusalem by Mahmoud Darwish
In Jerusalem, and I mean within the ancient walls
Sonnet V by Mahmoud Darwish
I touch you as a lonely violin touches the suburbs of the faraway place

D/20387"> Along the Border: On Mahmoud Darwish
by Fady Joudah

It is tempting to describe Mahmoud Darwish's writing life through geography and history. His early poetry transformed the dispossessed land into the unattained beloved whose images inform the poet's lexicon. The features of Palestine—its flowers and birds, towns and waters—became integrated in the poet's witness to the string of tragedies, political and humanitarian, that have continued to afflict his people. Yet, over the decades, Darwish's search beyond mere place never left him. Now, in his most recent poetry, translated in The Butterfly's Burden, his writing stands clearly at the border of earth and sky, reality and myth, love and exile, poetry and prose.

The long, circuitous journey Darwish has undertaken since his family fled his native Galilee to Lebanon in 1948 (when he was six years old) can be viewed as an odyssey. Mahmoud Darwish returned with his family to Israel months after its creation, where he grew up as a present-absentee who didn't return in time (from fleeing) to be recognized as an Israeli Arab. When he left for Moscow in 1970, he had already published four volumes of poetry and had known the Israeli prison system firsthand. His long life of exile had begun. One year later he moved to Cairo, and from there to Beirut. Ultimately, it was the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 that precipitated Darwish's pursuit for the sovereignty of song. Leaving Beirut to roam the Mediterranean (Greece, Cyprus, and Tunisia) proved heart wrenching for Darwish, who seemed unable, outside of his own writing, to survive another glaring mirror of exile, of dispossession. His long 1983 epic of the Beirut invasion, Praise to the High Shadow (Documentary Poem), and his 1984 collection, A Siege to the Eulogies of the Sea, depicted his woe, and addressed many of his close friends who had been killed or assassinated:

My friends, do not die the way you used to die
I beg you, do not die, wait another year for me
one year
just one more year
we might trade ideas for walking on the street
free of the hour and the banner ...
we have other tasks beside searching for graves and elegies

In 1986 Darwish had just moved to France and published two poetry collections and his artistically brilliant prose memoir of the siege of Beirut, Memory for Forgetfulness. In the first of these poetry volumes, he declared his aesthetic in the title It's a Song, It's a Song: "Nothing concerns it other than its cadence; a wind rising for itself to rise / and a fragility that checks in on the human within his relics." It was "Time the poet killed himself," he said in another poem from the same volume, "not for a reason other than to kill himself." And pressing deeper, "Where is my humanity?"

The other collection from the same year, Fewer Roses, was less dialectic than its predecessor. Composed of fifty-one short lyrics (ten long lines each), Roses confirmed Darwish's ripe resolve to shuffle cadence, voice, and dialogue, and to maintain a transformative, restless art, as though it were borne by gusts. Darwish had discovered the necessity for perpetual renewal of his poem: a song that anchors long enough to know itself, its reason for jubilance, before departing toward another reading, another writing. This conjuring of the phoenix from the latest, cooled-off ashes of exile would become a signal for an idea of return, a sublime aesthetic of resistance that Darwish would revisit in his work: a phoenix in search of its butterfly.

Around 1988, during the first Intifada, Darwish was a member of the executive council in the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Along with Edward Said, he was assigned the task of drafting a new charter toward peace. It was a prickly and odd time for Darwish, "for what is a poet doing there, there in the executive council?" he asked himself. In an essay titled "Before Writing My Resignation," Darwish became uncomfortably aware how "the creative Palestinian is prohibited from the luxury of vacated and dedicated time for the sake of creativity, because this is bound to a direct cessation from patriotic activity. Yet prisoners grow flowers in their prison yards. And in front of the zinc huts mothers plant basil and mint. The creative person must create his flexible margin between the patriotic, the political, the daily, the cultural, and the literary. But what am I to do? What does a poet do in the executive council? Will I be able to write a book of love when color falls on the ground in autumn?"

Some time had to pass before Darwish would answer his question about a book of love. The first Intifada was another phoenix upon whose wings the poet soared higher and higher. This time Darwish was facing, as he had done before, a quintessential predicament for the poet: how to carry the "I" of the "we" without betraying one perception for the other. The result was two great epics of collective memory that display Darwish's mastery of the long poem. In I See What I Want (1990), he captured what is mythic and visionary about return, oscillating between, on the one hand, the dream of "a stone scratching the sun" and, on the other hand, shedding "the skin of the earth" and flying "just to fly. " Eleven Planets (1992) expounded collective memory by invoking the voices of ancient and contemporary peoples. In it Darwish strewed the seeds of a universal voice—beginning with the Andalusian, sailing across the Atlantic to evoke the Native American, moving back in time to the Canaanite and the Greek, and ending with an Iraqi poet.

Perhaps it was what Darwish needed: to consume his self in the "we" of the "I" before leaping toward a new liberty. This emancipation came in 1996, following the bitter failure of the Oslo accords (over which he resigned from the PLO). He published his luminous, highly personalized account of place and nonplace: Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? is where the longtime courtship between self and other in his poetry crystallized into mystical union. That was the year the poet came home. After twenty-six years of exile from his native Galilee, he returned to Ramallah. There, he completed The Stranger's Bed (1998), his book of love, the first of the three books translated in The Butterfly's Burden. When, so soon after his return, The Stranger's Bed appeared, many readers were ambivalent about—some alienated by—a book of love. Perhaps many expected a glorious eulogy for the new Palestinian state yet to come. They had often imagined his poetry as their love poetry, but here he was singing about love as a private exile, not about exile as a public love. Eventually readers embraced the book.

The Stranger's Bed is a journey of, and through, voice. There is a delicate speech that gives birth to itself here. There is an "I" that overflows from the "you, " and a duality that merges beyond the narrow constructs of language. There is dialogue between masculine and feminine, prose and poetry, self and its others.

Not enough can be said about the metaphysics of identity in this book of love. An appeal to healing begins the collection: "We came / with the wind from Babylon / and we march to Babylon, " "Am I another you / and you another I? " "Then let's be kind." The subtle dialogue between tone and cadence in poems such as "Low Sky" and "We Walk on the Bridge" ushers the tender musical exchange throughout the book, where even the mythic can be treated with "one cup of hot chamomile / and two aspirins. " And the sonnets—a stranger's template for another's vernacular—develop the spine that gives the book its sway as man and woman, poetry and prose, commune with each other. Duality (or the annihilation of it) becomes "the necessary clarity of our mutual puzzle. " In many respects The Stranger's Bed is a conversation that, once begun, compels the reader through to its last utterance, uninterrupted, where the Familiar and the Stranger become "two in one." Arabic love poetry is a primary wellspring here. Whether in the Jahili night, in Majnoon Laila and Jameel Bouthaina fourteen centuries ago, in a Sufi east or and Andalusian west, it has always had its roots in an exile that slackens the bind to "the gravity of identity's land."

One year after the publication of The Stranger's Bed, Darwish would have died from a sudden illness, had it not been for a lengthy stay in intensive care. Subsequently, he wrote his Mural (2000) as if it were to be his last work. In it he celebrated life: "Green is the land of my poem, green and high." "I have defeated you death of all the arts. I have defeated you." "One day I will become what I want." "And I want, I want to live." Soon he began developing a more colloquial and conversational breadth in his writing. Then the terrible events of the second Intifada erupted. He was in Ramallah, and immediately found himself looking another Palestinian death in the eye, living another siege.

Comprising lyrical, journal-like entries, A State of Siege (2002) is witness not only to human suffering but also to art under duress, art in transmutation: "Our losses," Darwish says, "from two martyrs to eight ... / and fifty olive trees, / in addition to the structural defect / that will afflict the poem and the play and the incomplete painting." It is difficult not to draw a parallel to twenty years ago, when the siege of Beirut exalted the poet to search for what's beyond the siege. "Besiege your siege" was his famous cry in 1983's Documentary Poem. Now he repeats the same words as a quiet but resolute one-line address "To poetry." In the end, it was "the butterfly light, in / this tunnel's night" that guided the poet out.

Similarly, the forty-seven short lyrics of Don't Apologize for What You've Done (2003) are yet another incarnation/incantation of the poet after the carnage, just as Fewer Roses was seventeen years earlier. These lyrics ("In the Lust of Cadence"), however, are more varied in pace, tone, and music, grouping more distinctly into twos and threes or more, in dialogue with one another. They begin by reintroducing the self, weaving through place and time, constantly looking for a new powerful center, as in the stunning pentad of death that begins with "They Don't Look Behind Them." After that, "Cadence" continues its colloquial leap, often with refreshing and playful attention to the daily and the ordinary. Darwish then concludes his "Lust" in a wonderful hovering over the body of his exile, through another pentad sequence that lands him, once more, into the twins of exile and experience, poetry and Iraq.

The beautiful poems that constitute the latter part of The Butterfly's Burden epitomize, in their discursive and lyrical conversation, the rich, incessant metamorphosis in Darwish's oeuvre. In them language is loosened from being "an adjective of place," and this language wants "from the thing only the transparency of the thing." In further contrast to the poems of 1984, language also takes "revenge on absence." Yet, whatever the transfigurations may be in Darwish's poetry, and however tempestuous the calendar of his writing life, reading Darwish has always the constant of passage through his private vocabulary. It probably would take pages to catalog the words that recur—and how they recur—in his poems: anemones and lapis lazuli, gazelles and clouds, almond blossoms and rivers, mirrors and windows, abyss and olives, endlessness and its infinite chores ...

From the "Translator's Preface" of The Butterfly's Burden (2007) by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah, published by Copper Canyon Press. Copyright © 2007 by Mahmoud Darwish. Translation and preface copyright © 2007 by Fady Joudah. Used with permission of Copper Canyon Press,

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