Influential poet and cultural voice of the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Darwish passed away on Saturday, August 9, 2008 in a Houston, Texas hospital from complications from heart surgery. Mr. Darwish was 67.
Revered for his more than two dozen volumes of poetry, Mr. Darwish was the voice of the Palestinian people and their daily struggles. His first volume of poetry appeared in the 1960’s with Bird Without Wings and his last The Impression of Butterflies was published in 2008.
Revered, Mr. Darwish inspired musicians as well as readers, and now much of his poetry can be found as the lyrics to many Palestinian songs. His poems "Birds of Galilee," "I Yearn for My Mother’s Bread" and "Rita" are the best known of his poems that have been set to music. Palestinian songstress Reem Kelani transformed his poetry into song for her recording Sprinting Gazelle and the Lebanese composer, ud player and singer Marcel Khalife dedicated an instrumental composition to the poet entitled Taqasim.
Over the span of his career, Mahmoud Darwish received countless literary prizes that included the Ibn Sina Prize, France’s Knight of Arts and Belle Lettres medal and the Moroccan Wissan of intellectual merit from King Mohammad VI of Morocco.
Mr. Darwish is expected to be laid to rest on Wednesday, August 13, 2008 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Three days of mourning for the poet have announced by the offices of the Palestinian Authority.