Ramallah ~ Palestinian Areas
The Principal Prince Claus laureate of 2004 is Mahmoud Darwish, a poet of global significance. A writer formed in the crucible of migration and asylum, he powerfully evokes his experiences in poetry and prose that transcend time and place, drawing on collective memories of loss and longing, and expressing the mutuality of trauma and desire for peace. Born in Palestine in 1942, he suffered two violent expulsions and spent more than 26 years in exile in Jordan, Lebanon, Cyprus, Tunisia and France before being able to settle in Ramallah where he now lives. His highly acclaimed publication Leaves of Olive was published in 1964. His poems reveal the struggle to assert a sense of belonging and identity, and his prose masterpiece Memory For Forgetfulness (1982) powerfully evokes the experience of forced exile. Mahmoud Darwish has published more than 30 collections of poetry and prose, and his work has been translated into 35 languages. He is the founding editor of the highly regarded literary review Al Karmel which fosters intercultural debate on intellectual issues and links Arab writers with the international literary community. The Prince Claus Fund honours Mahmoud Darwish for his unique literary achievements and celebrates the courage of migrant artists who struggle for the right to freedom of imagination and of cultural expression.