Rifqa is Palestinian poet Mohammed El-Kurd’s ode to his late grandmother, and to the Palestinian struggle for liberation. ‘Jerusalem is ours.’
Each day after school, Mohammed El-Kurd’s grandmother welcomed him at the door of his home with a bouquet of jasmine. Her name was Rifqa—she was older than Israel itself and an icon of Palestinian resilience. With razor-sharp wit and glistening moral clarity, El-Kurd lays bare the brutality of Israeli settler colonialism. His poems trace Rifqa’s exile from Haifa to his family’s current dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, exposing the cyclical and relentless horror of the Nakba. El-Kurd’s debut collection definitively shows that the Palestinian struggle is a revolution, until victory.
“May these poems challenge and awaken you. May they shake you into action. May they help you find the words for what you already know to be true... These words remind me that home is a series of shared memories, not brick and mortar. Home is where we go to remember and revisit who we’ve always been. Mohammed El-Kurd’s poetry is a home returned to us.”—Aja Monet, from the foreword
“Rooted in Palestine and ranging across the world, these are poems that hurl themselves at the boundaries of what poems can do; lyrics that put a premium on anger, that reflect the serrated edges of living in the world today, that gift new and powerful phrases to the lexicon of liberation." —Ahdaf Soueif, author of Cairo: My City, Our Revolution
Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd
Haymarket Books 2021