Fadwa Tuqan ( Nablus 1917- 2003) the Grande Dame of Palestinian letters, was well known for her representations of resistance to Israeli occupation in contemporary Arab poetry. She received schooling until age 13 when she was forced to quit her studies due to illness. Her brother Ibrahim Touqan known as the Poet of Palestine, took responsibility of educating her and he did a good job. He introduced her to poetry and taught her English. She attended Oxford University, here she studied English and literature.
She began writing in the traditional forms, but was one of the leaders of the use of the free verse in Arabic poetry. Her work deals with feminine explorations of love and social protest. After 1967, she also began writing patriotic poems. Her autobiography published in 1985, “A Mountainous Journey”, was translated into English in 1990. Tuqan received the International Poetry Award in Palermo, Italy. She was awarded the Jerusalem Award for Culture and Arts by the PLO in 1990 and the United Arab Emirates Award in 1990. She also received the Honorary Palestine prize for poetry in 1996. She was the subject of a documentary film directed by novelist Liana Bader in 1999.
Touqan published eight poetry collections, which were translated into many languages and enjoy renown throughout the Arab World. Her book, “Alone with the Days,” focused on the hardships faced by women in the male-dominated Arab world. After the Six-Day War, Touqan’s poetry focused on the hardships of living under the Israeli occupation. One of her best known poems, “The Night and the Horsemen”, described life under Israeli military rule.
Touqan died on December 12, 2003 during the height of the Al-Aqsa Intifada, while her hometown of Nablus was under siege.
Touqan is widely considered a symbol of the Palestinian cause and “one of the most distinguished figures of modern Arabic literature¨.
My city is sad
The day in which we knew the death and treason,
the tide was made back,
the windows of the sky were closed,
and the city contained its breaths.
The day of the crease of the waves; the day
in which the abominable passion opened the face,
the hope was reduced to ashes,
and my sad city was asphyxiated
while swallowing the pain.
If echoes and without signs,
the children, the songs, loose themselves.
While they undress, covered with blood feet,
the sadness crawls in my city,
a planted silence as it mounts,
dark like night
a terrible silence that transports
the weight of the death and the defeat.
Ay, my sad enmudecida city!
The fruits and the grain can thus be burned,
in time of harvest?
Painful end of the route!