“If I touch the Depth of Your Heart … ” The Human Promise of Poetry in Memories of Mahmoud Darwish

Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge

Volume VII • Special Issue • 2009

Journal Editor:
Mohammad H. Tamdgidi, UMass Boston

Issue Co-Editors (alphabetical):

  • Anna D. Beckwith, UMass Boston
  • Elora Chowdhury, UMass Boston
  • Leila Farsakh, UMass Boston
  • Askold Melnyczuk, UMass Boston
  • Erica Mena, UMass Boston and University of Iowa
  • Dorothy Shubow Nelson, UMass Boston
  • Joyce Peseroff, UMass Boston
  • Rajini Srikanth, UMass Boston


This 2009 (VII) special issue of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge entitled “‘If I touch the depths of your heart’: The Human Promise of Poetry in Memories of Mahmoud Darwish,” is a commemorative issue on the life and poetry of the late Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, co-edited by a group of UMass Boston faculty and alumni. Other than keynote opening statements, the special issue is comprised of a selected series of longer and shorter poems by Mahmoud Darwish, followed by commemorative poetry and essays/articles that directly or indirectly engage with Mahmoud Darwish’s work and/or the subject matter of his passion and love, Palestine and human rights and dignity. Contributions include: Selections from the poetry of the late Mahmoud Darwish in two recently published collections: If I Were Another: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009) translated by Fady Joudah, and another, A River Dies of Thirst: Journals (Archipelago, 2009), translated by Catherine Cobham; keynote contribution by UMass Boston Provost Winston Langley, keynote contribution of a poem by Martha Collins; and commemorative poetry or prose by the Palestinian-American poet, writer, and scholar Lisa Suhair Majaj, Amy Tighe, Dorothy Shubow Nelson, Robert Lipton, Joyce Peseroff, Shaari Neretin, and Jack Hirschman; included are also essays/articles by Leila Farsakh, Rajini Srikanth, Erica Mena, Kyleen Aldrich, Nadia Alahmed, and Patrick Sylvain. Co-editors of the special issue were (alphabetically) Anna D. Beckwith, Elora Chowdhury, Leila Farsakh, Askold Melnyczuk, Erica Mena, Dorothy Shubow Nelson, Joyce Peseroff, Rajini Srikanth, and Mohammad H. Tamdgidi (journal editor-in-chief). This “Class-Book” was a student/instructor self-publishing experiment in a course offered at Binghamton University (SUNY) taught by Mohammad H. Tamdgidi in Spring 1997 when he was a graduate student enrolled in BU’s doctoral program in Sociology. The course was freshly designed and titled, “Soc 280Z: Sociology of Knowledge: Mysticism, Science, and Utopia.” The class-book was designed and printed in less than two weeks by the instructor in order to make it available to students as soon a possible after the class. The “fake” publisher name proposed by a contributing student author (Ingrid Heller) and adopted by the contributors was the “Crumbling Façades Press.” The class-book experiment was one that eventually inspired and contributed to the launching of Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge (ISSN: 1540-5699, 2002-). It was dedicated to the living memory of the late Professor Terence K. Hopkins (d. 1997), the founding Director of the Graduate Studies program of the Department of Sociology at SUNY-Binghamton. Contributors to the volume include: Shannon Martin, Ian Hinonangan, Nicholas Jezarian, Jeff Alexander: Tears of a Clown, Meghan Murphy, Heather Mealey, Daniel B. Kaplan, Ingrid Heller, Martin Magnusson, Arturo Pacheco, Keira Kaercher, and Mohammad H. Tamdgidi.

To order the complete volume of this journal issue, please visit the links below:


To read individual contributions of this volume that are freely accessible online, please click on the title of each contribution in the table of contents below.


vii—Editor’s Note: Mahmoud Darwish’s Parting Gift
Mohammad H. Tamdgidi, University of Massachusetts Boston

Mahmoud Darwish, “I Long for My Mother’s Bread” (Song by Marcel Khalife)

Keynote Openings

1—The Candle
Winston Langley, University of Massachusetts Boston

3—For Gaza
Martha Collins, Poet, Writer, and Editor

Mahmoud Darwish’s Poetry

5-6—From the New Book: If I Were Another: Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008)


7—Mahmoud Darwish’s Lyric Epic
Fady Joudah, Palestinian-American Poet, Physician, and Translator

Selected Long Poems by Mahmoud Darwish: Translations by Fady Joudah

19—The “Red Indian’s” Penultimate Speech to the White Man

25—Tuesday and the Weather is Clear


41—From the New Book, A River Dies of Thirst: Journals (Archipelago, 2009)

Selected Short Poems by Mahmoud Darwish: Translations by Catherine Cobham

43—A River Dies of Thirst



49—The Enemy

51—The House as Casualty

53—The Rest of A Life

55—If We Want To

Commemorative Poetry


57—Selected Poems: Country • Practicing Loving Kindness • Peace • No
Night Sky • Living History • Cyclones and Seeds
Lisa Suhair Majaj, Palestinian-American Writer, Scholar and Poet

75—Letter to Mahmoud Darwish
Amy Tighe, UMass and Boston College Alumni and Poet

Dorothy Shubow Nelson, University of Massachusetts Boston

81—Darwish Sits In
Robert Lipton, Poet and Writer

83—American Idols
Joyce Peseroff, University of Massachusetts Boston

Fady Joudah, Palestinian-American Poet, Physician, and Translator

91—The Lost and Found Warehouse
Shaari Neretin, Social Worker and Activist

99—Mantra for Mahmoud Darwish
Jack Hirschman, Poet 

Commemorative Essays


101—Darwish and the Meaning of Palestine
Leila Farsakh, University of Massachusetts Boston

105—Why the Solidarity?: South Asian Activism for Palestine
Rajini Srikanth, University of Massachusetts Boston

111—The Geography of Poetry: Mahmoud Darwish and Postnational Identity
Erica Mena, University of Iowa

119—The Lost and Forgotten: Exploring the Narratives of Darwish and Silko
Kyleen Aldrich, University of Massachusetts Boston

123—An Anthem for the Dream Land: The Legacy of Poetry for the Palestinian and African-American Nationalism in the 11002s and 1970s
Nadia Alahmed, University of Massachusetts Amherst

137—Darwish’s Essentialist Poetics in a State of Siege
Patrick Sylvain, Brown University, Harvard University, and University of Massachusetts Boston