Ghassan Zaqtan

Ghassan Zaqtan

I had never heard of this poet before Wednesday night, so if you haven’t heard of him either, join me. We’ll make good, if ill-informed, company. If Zaqtan’s work is old news to you, shame on you for not sharing! He’s a wonderful Palestinian poet who writes beautifully about horrible things (e.g. war, violence, exile, etc.). I know some of my readers are tender souls who shy away from those topics, but Zaqtan’s poetry isn’t explicitly violent or graphic. Part of what makes him such an excellent poet is his ability to make those awful things felt, to make them part of the environment of the poem, without being voyeuristic. What I mean is, the poems might make you feel bad because war, etc., is bad, but they’re no more damaging to one’s soul than those Sarah McLachlan ads with the animals are– and his poems are significantly more edifying.

Anyway! Click here to read a nice selection of Zaqtan’s work translated into English. Click here to read more about Zaqtan in his creative context. His work is worth knowing about.

I think we take for granted, in whatever American demographic I’m part of, hyper-literacy. I think we take for granted the life-saving and life-affirming nature of the written word. I think we take for granted that we can say just about whatever we want to whomever we want wherever we want– or at least we have the idea that we should be able to do that. Writers who write in dire circumstances show how necessary poetry can be.

(QOTD: What have you had to leave behind, either literally or figuratively?)


2 thoughts on “Ghassan Zaqtan

  1. I remember when I went to BYU-Idaho I felt this huge sense of loss, because I felt like I was leaving behind everything and everyone that I loved and knew. Luckily, I got to come back to all of those things, but I felt that again when I got married. Not EVERYTHING but lots of things, parts of my life, my childhood, that I was leaving behind and I would never ever be able to go back to again. I agree that we take things for granted, but I think it applies to everything. We continue to look forward to the next thing, not realizing that we won’t get the current moment back and finding happiness in it.

  2. I left behind a lot of things that wouldn’t fit in my car when I came home from Delaware. It was not well planned and I regret the loss of them AND the things that did make it to Pittsburgh that have been useless. :p

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