Nothing More to Lose by Najwan Darwish, translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid (New York Review Books)
The biblical, the mythological, and the quotidian mix with political resistance and dissent in this powerful collection by Palestinian poet Najwan Darwish. A poet of forceful intensity, Darwish appears in English for the first time in this beautifully rendered translation by Kareem James Abu-Zeid. This slim volume transverses impressive territory— from desolate landscapes of personal disillusion and public despair (“there’s no coming down from there/ I myself have lost all hope:/your cross is far too high/ for us to reach”) to radical positions of hope and clarity (“tomorrow our children will wake/without any guidance/ they are the future’s survivors”), a relentless journey that often leaves the reader out of breath. In this collection we hear also a constant and unapologetic debate between the voice of the lyric and intimate self and the politicized speaker of these poems, (“So, is a final word really necessary? Let there rather be a word contrary to it.”) The back and forth is both challenging and gorgeous to behold.