In the Presence of Absence


In the Presence of Absence by Mahmoud Darwish was originally published in Arabic in 2006. Mahmoud Darwish wrote this book fully aware his health was deteriorating rapidly. It is because of this the poetry serves a higher purpose for Darwish, as the poems fall into the self-elegy genre. Each chapter of this book allows Darwish to reflect on his own past experiences and present existence. This book is not auto-biographical but instead is “poetography,” as it looks back at the authors past and merges it with Darwish’s devotion to poetry.

This book is characterized by a space where opposites converge, tackling themes of both life and death, home and exile, and poetry and prose. This collection of genre-bending poetry allows the audience a close look into the authors intimate, mundane, tragic, life experiences. Darwish tells the audience for one of his last works, In the Presence of Absence, “I wanted to free the demons, doves, and birds of Arabic” (9).


Nimalah Baaithe-Ducharme ’19

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