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  4. Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower by Taha Muhammad Ali
Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower

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In his life
he neither wrote nor read.
In his life he
didn’t cut down a single tree,
didn’t slit the throat
of a single calf.
In his life he did not speak
of the New York Times
behind its back,
didn’t raise
his voice to a soul
except in his saying:
“Come in, please,
by God, you can’t refuse.”
 
               —
 
Nevertheless—
his case is hopeless,
his situation
desperate.
His God-given rights are a grain of salt
tossed into the sea.
 
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
about his enemies
my client knows not a thing.
And I can assure you,
were he to encounter
the entire crew
of the aircraft carrier Enterprise,
he’d serve them eggs
sunny-side up,
and labneh
fresh from the bag.


Taha Muhammah Ali, “Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower” from So What. Copyright © 2006 by Taha Muhammah Ali. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.
Source: So What (Copper Canyon Press, 2006)
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Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower

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  • Palestinian poet and short story writer Taha Muhammad Ali grew up in Saffuriya, Galilee. During the Arab-Israeli war in 1948, he moved with his family to Lebanon for a year; since then he has lived in Nazareth, where he owns a souvenir shop. Self-taught through his readings of classical Arabic literature, American fiction, and English poetry, Ali started writing poems in the 1970s. His collections in English include Never Mind: Twenty Poems and a Story (2000) and So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971–2005 (2006).
     
    In a direct, sometimes humorous, and often devastating style, Ali combines the personal and political as he details both village life and the upheaval of conflict. Comparing Ali to his contemporaries, John Palattella commented in a review in the Nation: “Whereas Darwish and al-Qasim, like most Palestinian poets, have favored the elevated and ornate rhetoric of fus’ha, or classical Arabic, Ali writes nonmetrical, unrhymed...

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