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Known for Being

A pioneer of Arabic free verse poetry.

The subject of a documentary film directed by novelist Liana Bader in 1999.

Major Accomplishments

Fadwa Tuqan was a Palestinian poet who forcefully expressed a nation's sense of loss and defiance. Her works trace the evolution of Palestinian political consciousness: from shock, despair and victimhood, to summud (steadfastness), resistance and renewed pride. Tuqan gained an international audience after her poetry was translated into English in the 1980s. Young Arab-Americans read her work to rediscover their roots; Israeli and Jewish feminists found a sympathetic resonance from their sister across the "green line".
She began writing in traditional forms, but soon became a pioneer of Arabic free verse poetry. Her work often deals with feminine explorations of love and social protest. After the Nakba ‘Catastrophe’ of 1948, she began to write about Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories. After the Six Day War of 1967, she also began writing patriotic poems. Her autobiography Difficult Journey―Mountainous Journey was translated into English in 1990. Tuqan received the International Poetry Award, the Jerusalem Award for Culture and Arts, and the United Arab Emirates Award, in 1990. She also received the Honorary Palestine prize for poetry in 1996. She was also the subject of a documentary film directed by novelist Liana Bader in 1999. Tuqan is widely considered to be a symbol of the Palestinian cause and is considered by many to be one of the most distinguished figures of modern Arabic literature. In his obituary for The Guardian, Lawrence Joffe wrote: ‘The Palestinian poet – Fadwa Tuqan, who has died aged 86, forcefully expressed a nation’s sense of loss and defiance’.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

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