Defiance, nostalgia and politics emanate from Dareen Tatour’s bilingual poetry collection, I Sing From the Window of Exile (Drunk Muse Press, 2022). Tatour is well known for the commotion her poem “Resist, My People, Resist Them” caused in 2015, when she was arrested and later imprisoned for incitement and allegedly supporting terrorism. She presents the reader with an insightful collection that speaks to feeling, to awareness, and to knowledge.
Israel’s settler-colonial military occupation created specific trajectories for Palestinians which requires careful observations rather than encroaching upon space. Tatour’s poetry is an invitation towards observation and understanding, not only about what the violence is, but also what it means and how it scars. Conversely, the reader is also drawn into the Palestinian space where resistance thrives, alongside a dream of liberation and return. In Tatour’s poetry, the dream is not elusive but has a presence of its own that transcends realms. The pain of exile, of holding land in one’s heart while it is ravaged by Zionist colonisation, makes for excruciating reading. One can only imagine the actual experience. And yet, Tatour’s words reel the reader in to imagine and feel.
Being deprived of one’s land is an experience that is introduced immediately through the poem “Last Invasion”. “Here is where horror lies,/my being outside this city’s border, deprived of my right to land,” writes Tatour. Displacement and exile echo in other poems, reading like a seemingly endless trajectory. “Time is grief-stricken,” the poet articulates in “The Dove”, while pondering exile and the consequences of its permanence.
In “Farewell”, Tatour encapsulates the tenacity of Palestinian memory with the metaphor of birth leading to a promise that could mean nothing, or everything. “Along with the key to the ancient house/I live of bits and pieces of dreams/ …a ruse leading to nothing/on a surface of an idea called the return.” The theme is recurring in the poem “Birth”, where Tatour writes, “To be born in my homeland/yet feel as if I were in exile/is the definition of loss”. The reminder of internal forced displacement lingers in the poem, a reality which is concealed when speaking about Palestinians as a collective excluded from their narratives and histories.
I Sing From the Window of Exile has been shortlisted for this year’s Palestine Book Awards, please click here to read the full review on the PBA site.