Abdulla Issa is an award-winning Palestinian poet, academic, translator, journalist, political analyst, and film producer living in Moscow. He was born in 1964 in the refugee camp of Bebela, near Damascus, Syria, where his parents had migrated, following the 1948 Palestinian Nakba. Abdulla graduated from The Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing. He received his PhD from the Institute of Asian an African Studies, Moscow State University. He has received numerous awards, including: “Master of Arts” (1995), “Mediterranean Basin Troubadour” (1999), “Year Character in Cultural Dialogue” (2015). He also received the Order for Creativity in Culture, Science and Art from Palestinian president in 2016. He has published a number of poetry collections including Dead People Preparing the Funeral (1987, 1997), Part of the Night – in Russian (1995), Alaa (1996, 1997), The Ink of a First Heaven (1997), The Doomsday of Walls (2000), Shepherds of Heaven, Shepherds of Oleanders (2013), My Brothers, O Father, Not the Wolf (2014). He also published two books in criticism, Vision (1996, 19970), and The Word and the Soul in Contemporary Arabic Poesy (2009).
Abdulla Issa poems are translated from the original Arabic into English by poet and translator Nizar Sartawi.
This is… Me
He who casts a stone to count the circles in the river
will hurt the gravel, algae, and unsuspecting fish,
Therefore, do not allow the disobedient to fill up your well twice
and pinch an ember that has left its shadow in your hearths
that you may see in the water the expression of a star that has fallen in the imagination of strangers
Do not look at me from behind the hills
or you won’t see me
He who is without sin
and eyes – despondent out of despair
let him follow me and step into my cottage
I am the one to be called, and I come
If you don’t weep
like the wind among the shadows of hoopoes,
As if a lady charged you with having colored ancestries
and then came back to dwell in the grave overlooking the garden.
I wasn’t blind to see that I have unlit eyes
since I saw the equator with your guidance
and the small earth rocked me here and my loved ones there…
like one who embraces his own corpse in a cold bed
If you don’t cry like me after this,
You’re Not Like Other Women
Do not tell her as her lovers did when they saw her
and went down on her knees: I love you.
She is not like other women, and she resembles none in the mirrors but herself.
Vineyards turn into wine if she touches them with her bored breath,
She never drinks wine save on her birthdays all alone
Countless men wait with bouquets of roses
And with a scent desired in the mirrors that have shriveled.
Be not be like them
The city might love its conqueror more between two wars,
or a field sparrow might travel higher above the horizon among the fingers of desperate hunters.
Women are like water. Be the scent of their hands that they may come back to you
Never complain about them but to them
that you may see in their mirrors all the mulberry that God has hidden from others but you in his kingdom.
She loves a man for loving her. be a beloved, not more,
and she will give you the two apples of her two Edens
The only one
who’s never dated anyone but you
says a lot about love when she gazed at her yesterday.
An Incomplete Biography
He’s never told anybody what he’d seen after the strangers’ visit
But he went on crying against the trunk of the olive tree that still stands in front of the house,
when he remembered that the handles of those daggers
that amputated his fingers were made of wood.
He never called anyone. They were all gone
leaving the last talk on the sides of the floors chattering
and their dreams torn to pieces on mats made of reed.
He wished he’d gone like them.