Events

Reading & Performance: Mahmoud Darwish's In the Presence of Absence, translated by Sinan Antoon

Wed, November 2, 2011 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

(View all reading & performances »)

Doors open at 6:30pm

Free and open to the public

By one of the most transcendent poets of his generation. Darwish composed this remarkable work at the apex of his creativity, but with the full knowledge that his death was imminent. Thinking it might be his final oeuvre, he summons all his poetic genius to create a luminous work that defies categorization. In stunning language, Darwish’s self-eulogy inhabits a rare space where opposites bleed and blend into each other. Prose and poetry, life and death, and home and exile are all sung by the poet and his other. On the threshold of im/mortality, the poet looks back at his own existence, intertwined with that of his people. Through these lyrical meditations on love, longing, and Palestine, reflections on violence and historical tragedy, and existential musings, the poet bids himself and his readers a poignant farewell.

Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008) is one of the most celebrated and revered poets in the Arab world. His collections of poetry include: Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone?, A River Dies of Thirst, Mural, The Butterfly’s Burden, Don’t Apologize for What You’ve Done, Like Almond Blossoms or Beyond, If I Were Another, Unfortunately, It Was Paradise, The Adam of Two Edens, and In the Presence of Absence (forthcoming). In 2001, Darwish was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize.

Sinan Antoon is an Iraqi poet and novelist. His co-translation of Darwish’s poetry was nominated for the PEN Translation Prize in 2004. His works include The Baghdad Blues, I’jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody, and The Pomegranate Alone. He is an assistant professor of Arabic Literature at New York University.

About the Musicians

George Ziadeh was born and raised in Birzeit, Palestine, and pursued music from a young age. In 1986 he moved to the United States, where he studied ‘oud with Simon Shaheen and classical singing and voice with Youssef Kassab, with whom he has toured extensively across the country. George has performed and lectured with such ensembles and institutions as the University of Chicago’s Middle East Music Ensemble with Issa Boulos, the University of Colorado (Boulder), Alwan for the Arts, the United Nations (invited by Kofi Annan), and annually at the Columbia University Department of Ethnomusicology. In 2008, George was a featured solo and ensemble performer in the “Brooklyn Maqam” Festival of Arab Music. From 1995 to 1997 George taught at the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music in Ramallah and at Birzeit University. George is considered an authority in maqam and Arab classical repertoire.

Zafer Tawil is a virtuoso on ‘oud, violin, and qanun, and a master of Arab percussion. Zafer has performed in concerts across the country, including performances with numerous musicians ranging from Sting to Arab music virtuosos Chab Mami, Simon Shaheen, Bassam Saba and George Ziadeh, to avant-garde composer/ performer Elliot Sharpe. He was a featured composer and performer in acclaimed director Jonathan Demme's Oscar-nominated film Rachel Getting Married and is composing and performing for Demme’s next film project, Zeitoun, based on Dave Eggers’ book about Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s post-Hurricane Katrina odyssey. Zafer has worked on many collaboration concerts involving classical Indian and Persian music as well as Arab/jazz fusion. He has held workshops on Arab music at many institutions and universities across the United States. A native of East Jerusalem, he resides in New York City.

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Alwan's Literary Programming is made possible by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

Last updated: 2011-11-30 03:10:25

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