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.
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.