Supplementary Material

Mastering Submission: Palestinian Poets Measuring Sounds of “Freedom”

By Khaled Furani


ABSTRACT This paper examines how Palestinian poets experience “freedom” when they compose with traditional rhythms in Arabic verse. In analyzing narratives by poets on their introduction to, training in, and mastery of metrical discipline, I argue that these seemingly “technical” practices host an exercise of “freedom” strikingly at odds with dominant liberal modalities, which pit freedom against submission. In contrast with modernizing poets who posit sovereignty of the self as a prerequisite for freedom, poets who vindicate metrical composition measure their sounds in an aliberal space of “freedom,” which then enables them to contest various forms of authority in society. This study illustrates the analytical possibilities that become available to an ethnographic inquiry into “freedom” when surrendering normative liberal paradigms of self-sovereignty. [freedom, poetry, ethics, liberalism, Palestine]


Antarah on horse. Source: Wikipedia.

Hear the legendary prince of poetry Rashid Hussein recite his poem “Thawra.”

Read a review of the English translation of Tamim al-Barghouthi’s collection of poems, composed in exile and translated by himself and his mother, novelist Radwa Ashour, In Jerusalem and Other Poems. Listen to al-Baghrouthi recite in Arabic the title poem “Fi al-Quds,” and read about his work and life in The New Yorker.

Get access to poems and to information about jailed (now released) Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour. Also watch the video of a poem that led to her incarceration.

Read a 1988 New York Times article about the furor generated in Israel by a poem published by acclaimed Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish and a 2016 Haaretz article about the controversy generated by his poems’ presence in Israeli schools and the public sphere. Listen to Darwish recite his poem “‘Aberoun fi Kalamin ‘Aaber” (You Who Pass Through Speech in Passing) and to reminiscences about his influence.

Hear Iraqi poet Ahmad Matar, widely regarded across the Arab world as “freedom’s poet,” recite his poem “Khamsatu Ashraar” (Five Villains).

Hear Palestinian poet Samih al-Qasim recite his poem defying occupiers “Taqaddamu” (You Come Closer).

Hear Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan’s poem “Mawatini” (My Homeland) set to music: the Palestinian national anthem.  

Hear a recitation of a poem by legendary pre-Islamic Arab poet ‘Antarah bin Shaddad.

Hear in a 2011 interview how actor Liev Schrieber discusses his relationship to text—one of experiencing freedom in submission—in performing Shakespeare. See especially the twelfth minute.

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