on my review of mourid barghouti’s i was born there… in today’s Independent

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MB by Rex Features The Independent
Horror, and happiness: Mourid Barghouti ( Rex Features )

I Was Born There, I Was Born Here,

By Mourid Barghouti, trans. Humphrey Davies

GUY MANNES-ABBOTT | FRIDAY 04 NOVEMBER 2011

 

Mourid Barghouti’s first volume of memoir, I Saw Ramallah, is a classic of the genre and a uniquely clear-eyed account of returning home after 30 years of serial expulsion. Barghouti is also the poet of displacement in general as well as its specific Palestinian form. In between the first and this second volume of memoir came Midnight & Other Poems – a first selection from many volumes of his poetry.

I Saw Ramallah wove a life of enforced absences into a moment of return to that city and the author’s home village of Deir Ghassanah in 1996, with prose of poetic concision. It ended with Barghouti recrossing an indelibly memorialised bridge over the Jordan river to collect a permit for his son Tamim, so they could return together. “He will see it. He will see me in it, and we shall ask all the questions after that.”

I Was Born… is that collection of “questions” Continue reading “on my review of mourid barghouti’s i was born there… in today’s Independent”

on mourid barghouti’s i was born there, i was born here due 7 Nov in UK

Deir Ghassanah from the restored ‘ruins of al Khawas’ tomb & masjid [Ph. G Mannes-Abbott 2010]

The much anticipated arrival in English of a second volume of Mourid Barghouti’s memoirs is now close enough to touch… Indeed, I have it here in my happy fingers. My efforts to try to read it in Arabic, with only a basic grasp of the language, met an honourable end without ever getting close to the uniquely precise presence of its author in his words…

Publication of I Was Born There, I was Born Here is November 7th and Mourid will be appearing at Oxford University, the Bristol Festival of Ideas, and London’s Southbank Centre. I’m reserving comment on the book for reasons that will become clear, but if you’ve never seen Mourid’s words come to life in his voice right in front of you then waste no time in getting hold of a seat or a ticket at these events… Continue reading “on mourid barghouti’s i was born there, i was born here due 7 Nov in UK”

on a hand made dummy of in ramallah, running -pre design meet

My hand-made and -cut rough mock-up of In Ramallah, Running this night…

I can’t  resist sharing my pleasure at having assembled all the elements of In Ramallah, Running in hard form for the first time tonight in preparation for a big design and layout meeting tomorrow. It’s very strange to materialise something that has existed in my mind as a project and proposal, then a place and people as well as a piece of my own inevitably elliptical work, before becoming a project once more with a range of very special people responding to and contributing work to the book, for all of that to eventually come together from all over the world and now to have a dummy of it in my fingers and see that it is pretty much as conceived -albeit only held together by a single bulldog clip- except that it’s so much better in actuality! Continue reading “on a hand made dummy of in ramallah, running -pre design meet”

on elias khoury’s ‘as though she were sleeping’ in today’s independent

Looking like Yaffa in ’48…

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As Though She Were Sleeping, By Elias Khoury

Reviewed by Guy Mannes-Abbott

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Journeying towards Mount Ararat, the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam wrote of cultivating a sixth sense, “the sense of attraction to a mountain”. Writing about food, American novelist James Salter quoted Brillat-Savarin approvingly on his notion of a sixth sense, “physical desire”. The other five senses, he wrote, are optimised only in “sexual union”.

The Lebanese writer Elias Khoury belongs in such exalted company in literary terms. His new novel also pivots on mountains – in Lebanon – and appreciations of sexual union. Indeed, it was one of many books banned by the Mubarak regime for its explicitness. Khoury writes about the scent of words, which take on such immaterial qualities that writing itself works like a sixth sense in his fiction.

Read more here or Continue reading “on elias khoury’s ‘as though she were sleeping’ in today’s independent”

on hosni, why change always involves force…

I’ll keep it brief, but isn’t it nice to see Hosni!

It seems so long now and I for one have been missing him. Of course his ‘former’ colleagues remain largely in place and there’s a long way to go to even begin to consolidate the revolution. But the break with the past is good, the rest we know will take blood, resolve and time…

Of course, the regime has been pushed to get this far, almost week by week, and that will go on until real change is achieved. Change only ever happens like this. When someone tells you that shouting, anger, protest, rebellion even defensive or strategic acts of violence never gets anyone anywhere, as autocrats large and small always waste their breath saying, well; laugh in their faces and press on…

I’m sure Fruit Store regulars know from your own experience that tired, jaded, reactionary, conservative, No-sayers always only ever respond to force -or anyway forcefulness- however boring it is to have to resort to it. In that respect there are continuities between Tahrir’s very expensively acquired and yet only partial freedoms and much less dramatic ones closer to home -and yes, I’m writing as an urbanforester  when I make that point [not that the extrapolation necessarily works the other way around, of course].

Anyway, hooray-hello-Hosni; lets see much more of you and yours in future and work painstakingly through your crimes to ensure that justice is seen to be done and change is institutionalised.

Meanwhile, check the current issue of Bidoun and it’s programme of summery Seminars at the Serpentine here.

on ‘in ramallah, running’ -it’s official; publication is [NOT!] february 2012 [UPDATED]

In Ramallah, Running 2010′ by Guy Mannes-Abbott

Manuscript in first draft, 5 of 14 scrolls/parts

In Ramallah, Running is now contracted to appear in February/March 2012 with Black Dog, more details/announcements to follow [24.04.2012 UPDATE: publication pushed back into summer 2012, watch for update very soon].

I’m very happy because the book was conceived and developed independently and will appear within the kind of urgent time frame that is appropriate to its subject and hard to achieve without compromise -or at all. I finished my 20,000 word series of e.things -a unique conjuring of place as well as the people of Ramallah and almost the whole open-air camp that is Ramallah District- in mid-September 2010 [after my Residency at al Qattan Foundation in Ramallah]. The series is made up of fourteen parts, alternating running within the limits of the city and walking out from it to, along, beyond and off limits, discovering how mobile they are. How they really work.

e.things as a form were crucial to this project because they’re the only way I could say what needed to be said. Often exhibited or published in a visual art context [with the best visual minds of my generation!], they’ve grown into a highly singular body of texts; the shortest of which is a single line called ‘go’ from 1997, the longest is this series; In Ramallah, Running. Continue reading “on ‘in ramallah, running’ -it’s official; publication is [NOT!] february 2012 [UPDATED]”

on an art of two-sides, mathaf interference at ICA

Shumon Basar and Jack Persekian Wash Hands…

Jack Persekian’s performance of Nablus Soap at the ICA, as part of the Mathaf’s Interference weekend, was brilliant.

The work takes off from a show he put on with Mona Hatoum back in the early days in Jerusalem. It recounts that earlyness, the basic space, cold and uninviting and the process of arriving at the piece –Present tense [1996]- by Mona H., its installation and the historical context of a disastrous willingness to compromise with Occupation in the form of ‘Oslo’. An apologetic Abu Amar is scratched-in which raised a big laugh and the whole piece is damn fine, not least as testament to Nablus.

As Jack and Shumon talked, the film was paused on one of the many Occupation watchtowers that terrorise the Palestinian Hills, lest any of us forget the bloody stain it represents… Continue reading “on an art of two-sides, mathaf interference at ICA”

on recognition of palestine, i do!

Free Free Palestine [BIG] Hyde Park London 2003 [Ph. Guy Mannes-Abbott]

As leaked documents make concrete, the state of Israel is panicked about the Palestinian declaration of independence in September and its recognition at the UN. I think we all know what will happen and Germany’s desire to see ethnic cleansing and siege continue will be supported by the UK [and Tony Blair of course, still fighting his permanent war. At least Blair used the phrase Israel-Palestine -just like Bosnia-Herzogovina; site of Crimes Against Humanity- while promoting his paperbacked memoirs, while the BBC journo -Sarah Raven?- couldn’t bring herself to say Palestine] and usual Imperialista desperadoes…

In the context of where things are now, I think it’s important that the world starts to recognise the Palestinian right to exist, such that they support and recognise its independence in September Continue reading “on recognition of palestine, i do!”

on the politics of the dead child -occupation vs humanity

independentLondon

What is a Palestinian State Worth? By Sari Nusseibeh

Reviewed by Guy Mannes-Abbott

Friday, 22 April 2011

Writing about William Wordsworth, Jacques Ranciere celebrated a consideration for “all that is too small” in his poetry about the post-revolutionary landscape of France. The theorist also articulated a post-millennial consensus; lauding the poet for taking care of “the dead child that every politics abandons”. Such a child is the moral focus of Sari Nusseibeh’s new book, but with unintended results. Continue reading “on the politics of the dead child -occupation vs humanity”