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“Many people in the Arab world feel their language is in crisis. And it is no exaggeration to say that Mahmoud is considered a savior of the Arab language.” — Syrian critic Subhi Hadidi, cited by Adam Schatz, The New York Times
Mahmoud Darwish (1941–2008) was born in the village of al-Birwa, in the Galilee, Palestine. He became a refugee at age seven. He worked as a journalist and editor in Haifa and left to study in Moscow in 1970. His exilic journey took him to Cairo, Beirut, Tunis, Paris, Amman, and Ramallah, where he settled in 1995. He is one of the most celebrated and revered poets in the Arab world. He published more than 30 books, and his poetry has been translated into 35 languages. Darwish was named a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by France in 1993, was awarded the Lannan Cultural Freedom Prize in 2001, the Prince Claus Award in 2004, and the Cairo Prize for Arabic Poetry in 2007.