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MEMO in conversation with Natalie Handal

As we mark 10 years since the launch of the Palestine Book Awards, watch our live conversation with Nathalie Handal discussing her seventh poetry collection 'Life in a Country Album', which won the Palestine Book Awards Creative Prize last year.

Born to a Palestinian family from Bethlehem, Nathalie Handal, the French-American poet and writer, brings a particular Palestinian sensibility to her poems and to her encounters.

Handal is the author of eight plays, editor of two anthologies including 'The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology'. She won the Creative Award at MEMO's Palestine Book Awards 2020 for her seventh poetry collection 'Life in a Country Album'.

"I am exploring the question of identity in Mediterrenean especially in Palestine and what is a country through my art. People have massacred other people in the name of 'country' in Palestine. I believe poetry has no border and unites people," she told MEMO in an interview.

Life in a Country Album by Nathalie Handal

Handal explained how she created a bond with Palestinian people via her poetry.

"Because, I've had a passport that has enabled me to go to the West Bank, I've been able to see my homeland and connect with people. And, of course I have family in there and I have had a very wide experience with the Palestinian diaspora. So, I am connecting my experiences with my love and poetry. Because, only art takes us back to our humanity."

According to a report published by John Hopkins Universtiy, arts are vital for healing and mental health. Handal says poetry is a remedy during coronavirus pandemic.

"Poetry like an alarm reminds you that you will survive. For instance, I got this Palestine Book Award during pandemic. It is like a sunlight after darkness," Handal said.

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