Additional Book Information

Series: NYRB Poets
ISBN: 9781681375526
Pages: 144
Publication Date: February 23, 2021

Exhausted on the Cross

by Najwan Darwish, translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, foreword by Raúl Zurita


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“We drag histories behind us,” Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish writes in Exhausted on the Cross, “here / where there’s neither land / nor sky.” Darwish’s second major book in Kareem James Abu-Zeid’s brilliant translation follows the critically acclaimed Nothing More to Lose. In pared-down lyrical lines, Darwish writes of what Chilean poet Raúl Zurita in his foreword describes as “something immemorial, almost unspeakable”—a poetry driven by a “moral imperative” to be at once “a colossal record of violence and, at the same time, the no-less-colossal record of compassion.” Anchored between Haifa and Jerusalem, these poems cross histories, cultures, and geographies, taking us from the grime of modern-day Shatila and the opulence of medieval Baghdad to the gardens of Samarkand and the open-air prison of present-day Gaza. We join the Persian poet Hafez in the conquered city of Shiraz and converse with the Prophet Mohammad in Medina. Poem after liminal poem evokes the humor in the face of despair, the hope in the face of nightmare.