Barghouti grew up in Ramallah as one of four brothers. In the mid-1960s, Barghouti went to study at Cairo University in Egypt. He was just finishing his last year in college when the Six-Day War of 1967 started. By the end of the war, Israel had captured Gaza and the West Bank, and Barghouti, like many Palestinians living abroad, was prevented from returning to his homeland. After the war he 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, Mawaqif, in Beirut and al-Katib, “attaleea” and “Al Ahram” in Cairo.
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 “I Saw Ramallah”, published in 1997 and translated from Arabic to English, Spanish and other languages, which won him the prestigious Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature in the same year.
Mourid Barghouti has published many essays both in English and Arabic on poetry, the most quoted paragraph of these writing is this one: “One of its charming miracles is that through its form, poetry can resist the content of authoritarian discourse. By resorting to understatement, concrete and physical language, a poet contends against abstraction, generalization, hyperbole and the heroic language of hot-headed generals and bogus lovers alike…. Poetry remains one of the astonishing forms in our hands to resist obscurantism and silence. And since we cannot wash the polluted words of hatred the same way we wash greasy dishes with soap and hot water, we the poets of the world, continue to write our poems to restore the respect of meaning and to give meaning to our existence.” – Mourid Barghouti (Originally published in New Internationalist # 359 -August 2003)
Slow is the hand of evening as it closes the window
draws the heavy blinds
and gathers the ashtrays overflowing with stubs.
She draws her face close to the mirror for a minute
“they are late..they are very late”..
the clock on the wall ticks in the ordinary way
slow are her steps to bed
cold is the evening
the touch of the blanket.
She pulls the cover over the body
and leaves the lights on in all the rooms
All of them arrive
river and train
sound and ship
light and letters
the telegrams of consolation
the invitations to dinner
the diplomatic pouch
the space ship
they all arrive/all but my step toward my own country..
Mourid Barghouti Reading