A poet whose work was political to its core, Mahmoud Darwish was a prolific and at times controversial Palestinian poet. Over the course of his career, Darwish published over 30 poetry collections and eight prose collections (novels, essays etc). Reflecting widespread anxieties at the time of writing, much of Darwish's work concerned the place of Palestine within the world and the ongoing tension with its neighbor, Israel. Like with other poets whose country or nationality is disputed and argued over, a key tenet in Darwish's oeuvre was that of 'watan', translated into English as 'homeland'.
Whilst championing Middle Eastern literature in his lifetime, Darwish was also well-read in the Western poetic tradition, citing the French poet Arthur Rimbaud and the American Beat poet Allen Ginsberg - best known for 'Howl'. A keen advocate for Palestinian-Israeli reconciliation, Mahmoud Darwish called Hebrew 'a language of love'. Awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1983 and appointed Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French president Francois Mitterand, Darwish continued as an activist and writer up until his death in 2008. Thought of by many as a fatherly figure in Palestine, Darwish's literary legacy continues to influence writers from the region today.