Poem of the Week: ‘Where’

BY Arts Desk  April 20, 2009 at 1:38 PM EDT

By Taha Muhammad Ali, translated from the Arabic by Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin and read in English by Peter Cole.

Poetry hides
somewhere
behind the night of words
behind the clouds of hearing,
across the dark of sight,
and beyond the dusk of music
that’s hidden and revealed.
But where is it concealed?
And how could I
possibly know
when I am barely able,
by the light of day,
to find my pencil?

Taha Muhammad Ali was born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriya. After fleeing to Lebanon during the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, Muhammad Ali and his family settled in Nazareth where they have lived since. He and his sons have been operating a souvenir shop there for decades. Muhammad Ali began his poetry career late, in 1983. He has published several collections of poetry and is also writes short stories. He has published two collections in English, and a new biography of Taha Muhammad Ali written by Adina Hoffman has just come out.

On Friday, Jeffrey Brown talks with Hoffman about that new biography, ‘My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness.’ To hear this poem in Arabic, and to learn more about poets of the Middle East, visit our Poetry Series.