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Arab literary icon Samih Al Qasim remembered

By Dana Al Emam - Sep 20,2014 - Last updated at Sep 20,2014

AMMAN — Samih Al Qasim's spirit surrounded a full-house audience at Al Hussein Cultural Centre on Saturday evening in a tribute honouring the Arab literary icon.

Organised by the
ESKADENIA Music Chamber, the event featured songs, dialogue sessions and poetry recitations that highlighted the literary accomplishments of the Palestinian poet.

Participating in a dialogue session, Culture Minister Lana Mamkegh said Qasim's works have always inspired her.

"It is time we celebrate poets and literary figures while they are still alive,” she added.

Palestinian poet and critic Izzedin Manasrah highlighted Qasim's innovation in writing "exceptional" poetry with great value to the Palestinian literary heritage, along with other figures such as Mahmoud Darwish and Tawfiq Ziyad.

Palestinian novelist Rashad Abu Shawar said Palestinians living under the Israeli occupation, including Qasim, face great difficulties in voicing their resistance, aiming to educate the public and encourage them to resist. 

The event included a poetry recital by Jordanian author and poet Ibrahim Nasrallah and musical performances by Kamal Khalil, the National Music Conservatory orchestra and Jordanian soprano Zeina Barhoum.

Watan Al Qasim, son of the late poet, told The Jordan Times that he feels his father's family is not exclusive to his wife and offspring, but encompasses the entire Arab world.

The 35-year-old added that Saturday's tribute and the thousands of messages and phone calls that his family received since his father's death is a sign of "true love that transcends borders".

The poet, who was born in Jordan, died on August 19 at the age of 75 after a battle with cancer.

In his last days, Qasim wrote short lines of verse confronting death: “I have no love for you, death, nor do I fear you, / and I know that you are making a bed of my body and a blanket of my soul.”

One of his famous poems where he resists the Israeli occupation and belittles its impact on the spirit of Palestinians is titled "Proceed".

Addressing the occupation, he wrote: "Proceed/ Proceed, / Every sky above you is Hell, /and every land you tread is Hell."

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