Mourid Barghouti

Barghouti, Mourid cr Diaa Saleh.jpg

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Mourid Barghouti grew up in Ramallah as one of four brothers. In the mid-1960s, he went to study at Cairo University, and was finishing his last year in college when the Six-Day War of 1967 started. Israel captured Gaza and the West Bank, and Barghouti, like many Palestinians living abroad, was prevented from returning to his homeland. After the war Barghouti first went to work as a teacher at the Industrial College in Kuwait. At the same time, he began to pursue his interest in literature and poetry, and his writings were soon published in the journals al-Adab and Mawaqif in Beirut and al-Katib, Attaleea and Al Ahram in Cairo. In 1968, he became acquainted with the Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali, who at that time was also working in Kuwait.

In 1970, Barghouti married the Egyptian novelist and academic Radwa Ashour. The two had met years earlier, when they were both students of the English Department at Cairo University. They have one child, a son, Tamim Al Barghouti, born in 1977 in Egypt, who is now a poet with four published books of poetry.

In 1972, Barghouti published his first book of poetry. He has since published 12 books of poetry, the last of which is Muntasaf al-Lail. His Collected Works came out in Beirut in 1997. A Small Sun, his first poetry book in English translation, was published by The Aldeburgh Poetry Trust in 2003. In 2000, he was awarded the Palestine Award for Poetry. His poems are published in Arabic and international literary magazines. English translations of his poetry have been published in Al Ahram Weekly, Banipal, Times Literary Supplement, and Modern Poetry in Translation. One of his most famous poems appeared as a cover photo for PEN International.

The Oslo Accords finally allowed Barghouti to return to the West Bank, and in 1996 he returned to Ramallah after 30 years of exile. This event inspired his autobiographical novel Ra'aytu Ram Allah (I Saw Ramallah), which won him the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in the same year. Edward Said described I Saw Ramallah as ‘one of the finest existential accounts of Palestinian displacement we now have.’

In 2011, Barghouti published a sequel to I Saw Ramallah titled I Was Born There, I Was Born Here.

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