"Mosab Abu Toha is an astonishingly gifted young poet from Gaza, almost a seer with his eloquent lyrical vernacular .
Author: Mosab Abu Toha
In this poetry debut, the first collection from any Gazan poet to be published in English, Mosab Abu Toha writes directly from the experience of growing up and living one's entire life in Gaza, the world's largest open-air prison camp. These poems emerge from Mosab's life under siege, first as a child, and then as a young father. A survivor of four brutal military attacks, he bears witness to a grinding cycle of destruction and assault, and yet, his poetry is infused with a profoundly universal humanity. In direct, vivid language, Abu Toha writes about being unwelcome in your own land, and even outside of it. He writes about being wounded by shrapnel at the age of 16, and then, a few years later, watching his home and his university get hit by Israeli warplanes in an attack that killed two of his close friends. Books are buried in rubble and electricity is often limited to 2 hours a day, and yet, families continue traditions, students attend university, and libraries rise from the ruins. These poems are filled with bombs and the ever-present menace of surveillance drones, as well as the smell of tea and roses in bloom, and the view of the sea at sunset. They present an almost surrealist/absurd viewpoint, based in a sense of rational and profound perplexity as to why these conditions continue, and how the people of Gaza go about their lives, even creating beauty as they find new ways to survive. Abu Toha writes, "It's not only about narrating things. It's about keeping things alive in us and for the generations to come. It's about how life crumbles, but also how it tries to stand." If we don't begin understanding what has happened there--and is still happening--Gaza might be our future as well. We all need to grasp what it means to still be human in such a situation. "Mosab Abu Toha is an astonishingly gifted young poet from Gaza with a generous history. To me, he is the quintessential Palestinian poet of our time--spontaneous, hospitable to all, profoundly productive, engaged with community, almost a seer with his eloquent lyrical vernacular, his visions of life, continuity, time, possibility, and beauty. His poems break my heart and awaken it, at the same time. I feel I have been waiting for his work all my life. Many people will be enlightened by the urgent truth of his writing and his charismatic presence. When his book appears, there is none I will champion more widely."--Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People's Poet Laureate, Poetry Foundation