On July 31, an Israeli court sentenced Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour to five months in prison for a poem and two post she had published on Facebook. Tatour, who holds Israeli citizenship, was convicted of “incitement to violence” and “support of terrorist organizations” in May 2018. She was originally arrested in October 2015 and, after spending three months in an Israeli jail, was placed under house arrest.
Tatour’s case is only the latest publicly known example of a Palestinian poet being locked behind bars by the Israeli regime. The colonizing power has historically been afraid of Palestinian poetry. Palestine’s national poet Mahmoud Darwish was imprisoned several times for his odes to Palestine. In 1972, Palestinian poet Ghassan Kanafani was killed by the Mossad in Beirut because of his writing. As these cases underscore, poetry can be a powerful weapon of resistance that the Israeli state apparatus will do whatever it can to squelch.
Palestine’s poets are not easily defeated, however. In a recent interview with Mondoweiss, Tatour explains how the experience of political incarceration has strengthened her commitment to liberation.
This experience has reshaped the feelings in my heart and made me write poems in a new way. The waiting opened horizons of political and artistic life that I did not live or know before. It integrated a new culture into my prior culture and added new sparks and meanings. Politics and art became even more important than before. I also learned to draw while in detention. I am now considering studying visual arts after my trial, in addition to my work in journalism, poetry, and photography.
On the political level, the detention gave me a different identity. I’ve become even more committed to liberating my people and my homeland from injustice and occupation. The goal is to arrive at a state that includes everyone, based on the principles of justice and equality, without any concessions of our rights as Palestinian people living in the homeland in which we were born.
Read the full interview here.