Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear defies order and structure. It is a staggeringly diverse collection and as deep, heavy and haunting as the very days Israel rains down bombs and drones on Gaza.
Some of Mosab Abu Toha’s subjects in this recently published poetry collection are vast and ungraspable: the 2014 war, F-16 aircraft, immigration, family, exile and loss – especially loss.
Each poem uniquely details the alienating cruelty of living under Israeli occupation in the Gaza Strip, which has been under a strict Israeli siege since 2007.
Given Israel’s escalating violence against Palestinians, including its latest three-day bloody onslaught on Gaza last month, resulting in 49 people, including 17 children and four women, being killed, only a year after the 11-day Israeli attack in May 2021, readers will be painfully touched by the numbing tone of the author that dominates the pages, as he narrates in his 9-lined short poem, entitled, Hard Exercise:
breathing is a task,
smiling is performing
on one’s own face,
and rising in the morning,
trying to survive
another day, is coming back
from the dead.
With shrapnel and bullets raining across most pages, the theme of blood and bombs runs deep through many of his writings.
Born in Al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, home to 90,000 people, the author suffered the deaths of two brothers, a sister and his two dear friends, Amar and Ezza. They feature prominently in his poetry, along with Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani and Edward Said.
Mosab often transports the readers into darker and more dangerous terrain by ever so briefly describing the intimate moments of war that fail to reach the news and social media.
This book is on the shortlist for the Palestine Book Awards 2022, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine Book Awards site.