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Rifqa

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Rifqa is Mohammed El-Kurd’s debut collection of poetry, written in the tradition of Ghassan Kanfani’s Palestinian Resistance Literature. The book narrates the author’s own experience of dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah—an infamous neighborhood in Jerusalem, Palestine, whose population of refugees continues to live on the brink of homelessness at the hands of the Israeli gove Rifqa is Mohammed El-Kurd’s debut collection of poetry, written in the tradition of Ghassan Kanfani’s Palestinian Resistance Literature. The book narrates the author’s own experience of dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah—an infamous neighborhood in Jerusalem, Palestine, whose population of refugees continues to live on the brink of homelessness at the hands of the Israeli government and US-based settler organizations. The book, named after the author’s late grandmother who was forced to flee from Haifa upon the genocidal establishment of Israel, makes the observation that home takeovers and demolitions across historical Palestine are not reminiscent of 1948 Nakba, but are in fact a continuation of it: a legalized, ideologically-driven practice of ethnic cleansing.


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Rifqa is Mohammed El-Kurd’s debut collection of poetry, written in the tradition of Ghassan Kanfani’s Palestinian Resistance Literature. The book narrates the author’s own experience of dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah—an infamous neighborhood in Jerusalem, Palestine, whose population of refugees continues to live on the brink of homelessness at the hands of the Israeli gove Rifqa is Mohammed El-Kurd’s debut collection of poetry, written in the tradition of Ghassan Kanfani’s Palestinian Resistance Literature. The book narrates the author’s own experience of dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah—an infamous neighborhood in Jerusalem, Palestine, whose population of refugees continues to live on the brink of homelessness at the hands of the Israeli government and US-based settler organizations. The book, named after the author’s late grandmother who was forced to flee from Haifa upon the genocidal establishment of Israel, makes the observation that home takeovers and demolitions across historical Palestine are not reminiscent of 1948 Nakba, but are in fact a continuation of it: a legalized, ideologically-driven practice of ethnic cleansing.

30 review for Rifqa

  1. 5 out of 5

    charlotte,

    the kind of poetry that feels like a punch to the gut

  2. 4 out of 5

    anna (½ of readsrainbow)

    there's such beauty and magic in his words; he makes you feel the heartbreak & tragedy with the most unlikely of metaphors there's such beauty and magic in his words; he makes you feel the heartbreak & tragedy with the most unlikely of metaphors

  3. 4 out of 5

    George Abraham

    The future of Palestinian poetics. Absolutely required reading in every sense of the word. Go pre-order this book now!! Huge thanks to Haymarket for the ARC! Here is my blurb for RIFQA: "At its heart, RIFQA is a call to build a better elsewhere for Palestinians, in & beyond language: an ars poetica beyonded into unity intifada, where Palestinians are loved into present tense. Beyond a failed imagination of poetry that’s more “theatre over thunder,” beyond a poetics where elegy is merely a symptom The future of Palestinian poetics. Absolutely required reading in every sense of the word. Go pre-order this book now!! Huge thanks to Haymarket for the ARC! Here is my blurb for RIFQA: "At its heart, RIFQA is a call to build a better elsewhere for Palestinians, in & beyond language: an ars poetica beyonded into unity intifada, where Palestinians are loved into present tense. Beyond a failed imagination of poetry that’s more “theatre over thunder,” beyond a poetics where elegy is merely a symptom of border, Mohammed El-Kurd weaves the ancestors and Land into every breath of these poems. “Every grandmother is a Jerusalem,” El-Kurd reminds us, in jasmine-scented memory, in liminal space and punchline, in auto- and anti-biography. Here is poetry the whole of us can turn and return to - even in grief, even in contradiction. Liberating itself from respectability & other colonialist gazes weaponized against Palestinians, here is poetry insistent on truths we’ve carried for generations. JERUSALEM IS OURS. El-Kurd writes this with its whole chest, knowing our lives - the whole & future of us - depend on it."

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    "I no longer feel the responsibility to give humans eyes for humanity." This was so raw, both beautiful and tragic, horrifying in its reality, thought-provoking. Each word has its own carefully thought-out place here, an emotion attached to it. Each sentence has its punchline, and that punchline is like a punch to the gut. It feels almost wrong to describe some of the lines as my "favourite" but I'd like to quote a few nonetheless: "If you ask me where I’m from it’s not a one-word answer." "This is "I no longer feel the responsibility to give humans eyes for humanity." This was so raw, both beautiful and tragic, horrifying in its reality, thought-provoking. Each word has its own carefully thought-out place here, an emotion attached to it. Each sentence has its punchline, and that punchline is like a punch to the gut. It feels almost wrong to describe some of the lines as my "favourite" but I'd like to quote a few nonetheless: "If you ask me where I’m from it’s not a one-word answer." "This is why we dance: Because screaming isn’t free. Please tell me: Why is anger–even anger–a luxury to me?" "A soldier as old as a leaf born yesterday pulls a trigger on a woman older than his heritage. Two martyrs fall. One martyr falls. Here, every footstep is a grave, every grandmother is a Jerusalem." "Ramadan​ villages retired singing, rifles sang instead, announcing​ declaring an anticipated empire on the ruins of another." "Invaders ​came back once again, ​​ claimed the land with ​​​fists and fire​ excuses​ beliefs of the chosen and the promised as if God is a real-estate agent." "I cried—not for the house but for the memories I could have had inside it." "The nurse complained of the clouds. If I were a stupid flower, I’d wither under the rain. They asked her, What’s wrong with the flower? not What’s wrong with the rain?" "It’s the same killing everywhere. Seventy-some years later we haven’t lived a day." "I wish I were a landlord to the tenants in my head. Wish I could pimp my pain​​ and harden. Grief the teacher ​and I never learn."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Noel

    "I was born among poetry on the fiftieth anniversary. The liberation chants outside the hospital room told my mother to push." ~Mohammed El-Kurd "Born on Nakba Day" This collection of poetry wove its way deep into me and refused to let go. I can no sooner choose a favorite poem nor my top five favorite poems from the beautiful poems in Rifqa than pick my favorite leaf from the fallen autumn foliage of a forest. These poems embody resistance, exhaustion, undying love, heart ache, family, homeland, and "I was born among poetry on the fiftieth anniversary. The liberation chants outside the hospital room told my mother to push." ~Mohammed El-Kurd "Born on Nakba Day" This collection of poetry wove its way deep into me and refused to let go. I can no sooner choose a favorite poem nor my top five favorite poems from the beautiful poems in Rifqa than pick my favorite leaf from the fallen autumn foliage of a forest. These poems embody resistance, exhaustion, undying love, heart ache, family, homeland, and everything unapologetically Palestinian. I've found myself thinking about Mohammed's words and replaying lines in my head letting them melt to further savor them. The bond that tied Mohammed and his grandmother Rifqa was extraordinarily beautiful and it emanated from the lines of the poems he wrote to honor her memory, her tenacity, her courage, and her deep love. There are poetry collections that I love, and then there are poetry collections that I LOVE and buy physical copies of to keep on my shelf to revisit again and again. Rifqa made its place on that shelf next to Nizar Qabanni and Suheir Hammad before it was even published when Mohammed read his poem "No Moses in Siege" on Instagram live. Mohammed isn't just a poet, he's a great poet, and I cannot wait to read all of the future beautiful work he will put out into the world.

  6. 5 out of 5

    m.

    A lot of poets can make you feel but few can do so on a soul-level and Mohammed El-kurd is one of them. I went in knowing I'd enjoy this but never had I expected such raw talent, the kind where you know the person will go on to do great things. I always believed that poets who can speak Arabic have a much deeper inclination to metaphors and linguistic beauty since our language is one of pure poetry and often-dramatic-and-incredible metaphors and the poet was another beautiful case of just that. A lot of poets can make you feel but few can do so on a soul-level and Mohammed El-kurd is one of them. I went in knowing I'd enjoy this but never had I expected such raw talent, the kind where you know the person will go on to do great things. I always believed that poets who can speak Arabic have a much deeper inclination to metaphors and linguistic beauty since our language is one of pure poetry and often-dramatic-and-incredible metaphors and the poet was another beautiful case of just that. Best poetry I've read in so long and I can't wait for his words to be appreciated as they deserve to be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sam Misleh

    “I no longer feel the responsibility to give humans eyes for humanity.”

  8. 4 out of 5

    imaginarium

    Breathtaking.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jueria

    I will read anything and everything by Mohammed El-Kurd. What a writer!!!!!!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nesrine

    would be available in algeria in oct 21 ???

  11. 5 out of 5

    yas

    beautiful mohammed & muna are such an inspiration to the diaspora

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shaimaa

    “What is a fact in Arabic is debatable in English, contentious. Thing is, I couldn’t care less. Say evict & I’ll still say theft. hyperlink them to death. A reporter asks if I believe in violence. Irony is a constant guest. What’s that got to do with anything? Another asks what’s a holiday like in a tent? Who gives a fuck about Christmas and decorations? Do I believe in violence? Well I don’t believe in violation.” Mohammed El-Kurd unapologetically narrates his life, the lives of his family, and Sheikh Jarr “What is a fact in Arabic is debatable in English, contentious. Thing is, I couldn’t care less. Say evict & I’ll still say theft. hyperlink them to death. A reporter asks if I believe in violence. Irony is a constant guest. What’s that got to do with anything? Another asks what’s a holiday like in a tent? Who gives a fuck about Christmas and decorations? Do I believe in violence? Well I don’t believe in violation.” Mohammed El-Kurd unapologetically narrates his life, the lives of his family, and Sheikh Jarrah in poetic verses with a distinguished style. It may seem like it's influenced by the writings Ghassan Kanfani’s Palestinian Resistance Literature. Mohammed has been documenting all of this along with his sister Muna since they were kids through many mediums...before with a camera, then articles and essays, and now with poetry (even though he has been writing this book since he was sixteen.) "I no longer feel the responsibility to give humans eyes for humanity." His words carry beauty, boldness, and rawness that make this book unputdownable.

  13. 4 out of 5

    hamna

    rtc in a bit it’s 6 am

  14. 5 out of 5

    neen

    3.5/5 “Home in my memory is a green, worn-out couch and my grandmother in every poem: every jasmine picked off the backlash, every backlash picked off the tear gas, and tear gas healed with yogurt and onions, with resilience, with women chanting, drumming on pots and pans” “leaving behind the vine of roses in the front yard. Sometime when youth was more than just yearning,” “I am but my nostalgia, my sick homesickness.” - I wish I wrote some of these poems!!! I found most of the poems to follow the same sort o 3.5/5 “Home in my memory is a green, worn-out couch and my grandmother in every poem: every jasmine picked off the backlash, every backlash picked off the tear gas, and tear gas healed with yogurt and onions, with resilience, with women chanting, drumming on pots and pans” “leaving behind the vine of roses in the front yard. Sometime when youth was more than just yearning,” “I am but my nostalgia, my sick homesickness.” - I wish I wrote some of these poems!!! I found most of the poems to follow the same sort of certain structure and most of them were very *vivid*, in a way, you could see the exact situations Mohammed is describing, you could see his Teta, you could see the occupation. I really enjoyed reading this, it reminded me a lot of Ocean Vuong’s work. Some poems I wasn’t a fan of, some of them didn’t make sense to me (I felt like they were just a string of words that I couldn’t really grasp or make coherent), but I would say most of them are really really good, and I would definitely recommend this book!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zafra

    "Do I believe in violence? Well I don't believe in violation." "Do I believe in violence? Well I don't believe in violation."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Nermin Farid

    Intimate powerful words and touches the heart , would definitely be looking forward to more work by Mohammed El Kurd

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nour

    “Rifqa” is a howl that will cleave the breath in your lungs to pieces. It is a heart revealing the wounds of a people and their strength.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dave Osborne

    "I’ll hold my word to one of the men’s heads. and he’ll tremble as I press against his temple and say, Say it. Say it. Say my name without spitting” (from the poem Crows). More than any other author I’ve read over the past several years, I cannot separate what I want to say about the work from what I want to say about the writer. Palestinian Mohammed El-Kurd and his twin sister Muna were born in occupied Jerusalem in 1998. His family’s Jerusalem home is in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, ground zero o "I’ll hold my word to one of the men’s heads. and he’ll tremble as I press against his temple and say, Say it. Say it. Say my name without spitting” (from the poem Crows). More than any other author I’ve read over the past several years, I cannot separate what I want to say about the work from what I want to say about the writer. Palestinian Mohammed El-Kurd and his twin sister Muna were born in occupied Jerusalem in 1998. His family’s Jerusalem home is in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, ground zero of Israeli-Palestinian news in the summer of 2021 focused on Israeli settler colonists’ efforts to take over part of the neighborhood, having previously forced their way into dispossession of half of the El-Kurd house. El-Kurd’s 2021 collection of poetry, his first book, was published by Haymarket Books (Chicago) in 2021; Mohammed and his twin sister Muna were listed by Time magazine on September 15 among The 100 Most Influential People of 2021: “Charismatic and bold, they became the most recognizable voices of those threatened with losing their homes in Sheikh Jarrah. Around the world, their grassroots organizing helped inspire the Palestinian diaspora to renew protests.” El-Kurd’s touchstone is his grandmother Rifqa. She died on June 16, 2020, at the age of 103. In his collection of poetry, El-Kurd often draws words and images from his grandmother’s life and legacy: “A hundred years tightroping the distance between pride and self-respect” (from The Biggest Punch Line of All Time). Although at times sounding a bit affected, El-Kurd’s poetry is a voice, often defiant and bold, that reflects the poet and a people. He speaks for himself, but, in the tradition of other Palestinian poets, he also speaks for a common cause.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ana Rodrigues

    Thid book is very poorly written. The poetry has poor structure and bad grammar,. The author is a mouthpiece for Hamas, and the events are completely fictional. Muhammad el Kurd is an antisemitic propagandist originally from Kurdistan occupying stolen land that Jordan stole from Israel during its illegal occupation of East Jerusalem. It is incredible how this antisemitic author supports terrorist groups occupying Israeli land Illegally instead of denouncing their allegiance to the terrorist grou Thid book is very poorly written. The poetry has poor structure and bad grammar,. The author is a mouthpiece for Hamas, and the events are completely fictional. Muhammad el Kurd is an antisemitic propagandist originally from Kurdistan occupying stolen land that Jordan stole from Israel during its illegal occupation of East Jerusalem. It is incredible how this antisemitic author supports terrorist groups occupying Israeli land Illegally instead of denouncing their allegiance to the terrorist groups murdering his people in Kurdistan. This is just another book trying to promote antisemitic revision of history to justify the disposetion of the indigenous Jewish people from Shimon Hatzadik, the real name of what they call Sheik Jarrah.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Hajer

    Rifqa, Mohammed's grand-mother, was older than the state of israel itself. She was not a woman drowning in victimhood because of her forced displacement from her home in Palestine, she was an active resistant, a moral compass to many, a stubborn survivor who refuses to endure without giving a fight, she was an icon of resilience.. Her grandson's poetry hinges severed souls, offers a moral compass to an immoral world, challenges rooted beliefs and shakes frozen seas.. How can it be so brutal and Rifqa, Mohammed's grand-mother, was older than the state of israel itself. She was not a woman drowning in victimhood because of her forced displacement from her home in Palestine, she was an active resistant, a moral compass to many, a stubborn survivor who refuses to endure without giving a fight, she was an icon of resilience.. Her grandson's poetry hinges severed souls, offers a moral compass to an immoral world, challenges rooted beliefs and shakes frozen seas.. How can it be so brutal and yet so beautiful? How can a language as admirable as his, harbour such atrocious realities? I will have to re-read it, no matter how achingly beautiful it is. Describing it is beyond words, beyond destructions, beyond grief..

  21. 4 out of 5

    Anne

    A stunner. I first became aware of El-Kurd when I saw him on the news, so eloquently and passionately defending his home from settler colonialism, and informing the audience why it was, indeed, apartheid, genocide, and colonialism. He was a refreshing young voice: bold, informed, and unapologetic. When I saw he was also a poet, I was excited. Having been to Palestine, I know how revered poetry is. I often think there are no better poets in the world than what comes out of the brutality that Pale A stunner. I first became aware of El-Kurd when I saw him on the news, so eloquently and passionately defending his home from settler colonialism, and informing the audience why it was, indeed, apartheid, genocide, and colonialism. He was a refreshing young voice: bold, informed, and unapologetic. When I saw he was also a poet, I was excited. Having been to Palestine, I know how revered poetry is. I often think there are no better poets in the world than what comes out of the brutality that Palestinian poets must distill into their art. And this didn’t disappoint. It was exquisite. Aching. Innovative. Visionary. Everyone should read it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    ari

    "RIFQA" is Mohammed El-Kurd's debut poetry collection that focuses on the Palestinian resilience and the experience of Israeli settler colonialism brutality first hand. His words hold such power and beauty. I'm always amazed by poetry that makes you feel something about things that actually matter, about history, about the world, and this was most definitely one of them. It is poetry that is so riveting on the surface, but also a full fledged raging flame underneath. I don't have many words to t "RIFQA" is Mohammed El-Kurd's debut poetry collection that focuses on the Palestinian resilience and the experience of Israeli settler colonialism brutality first hand. His words hold such power and beauty. I'm always amazed by poetry that makes you feel something about things that actually matter, about history, about the world, and this was most definitely one of them. It is poetry that is so riveting on the surface, but also a full fledged raging flame underneath. I don't have many words to tell you how I feel about this collection of poems, all I can say is that it's the first one I've thoroughly enjoyed in a long time.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Manahil

    I don’t read much poetry and I don’t know much about this kind of poetry to judge its quality, but I know it deeply touched me, evoked many emotions, images and memories. Even the ones that I wasn’t sure what he was talking about, there were at least few lines that evoked something in me. So I think that’s all that matters (for me at least) in a good poetry book. Plus, it’s a very easy and quick read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Haneen

    A masterpiece and an intense call to action everyone must-read. Not an avid poetry reader, but found El-Kurd's words to be incredibly raw, horrifying, emotional, and thought-provoking. He gives the world the unconditional rage Palestinians have never afforded, it felt like being let out of a chokehold. Expect Goosebumps, this is the kind of poetry you feel within your soul. Cannot wait to read his next project! A masterpiece and an intense call to action everyone must-read. Not an avid poetry reader, but found El-Kurd's words to be incredibly raw, horrifying, emotional, and thought-provoking. He gives the world the unconditional rage Palestinians have never afforded, it felt like being let out of a chokehold. Expect Goosebumps, this is the kind of poetry you feel within your soul. Cannot wait to read his next project!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Marcy

    A powerful volume of poems in the tradition of Nathalie Handal, Suheir Hammad, June Jordan, and Audre Lorde. El-Kurd's poetry is blunt - in the best meaning of that word. He doesn't mince words, images, or metaphors. I especially loved the afterword where he delineates some of the political choices he makes when writing about Palestine. A powerful volume of poems in the tradition of Nathalie Handal, Suheir Hammad, June Jordan, and Audre Lorde. El-Kurd's poetry is blunt - in the best meaning of that word. He doesn't mince words, images, or metaphors. I especially loved the afterword where he delineates some of the political choices he makes when writing about Palestine.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Noor

    Don’t know where to start.. this is the best thing I have read this year! Powerful words. Mohammed your words made me cry. I cried reading this book as a Palestinian in exile. Please keep writing and we are looking forward to your work 🇵🇸

  27. 4 out of 5

    Maddy

    brilliant. must read. el-kurd's writing is powerful beyond words. tear jerking incredible poetry. tells stories of home that keep Palestinian nationhood a reality. succinct, critical, and necessarily. brilliant. must read. el-kurd's writing is powerful beyond words. tear jerking incredible poetry. tells stories of home that keep Palestinian nationhood a reality. succinct, critical, and necessarily.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Tara

    Beautiful

  29. 4 out of 5

    Elyzha

    Beautiful His words are just heartbreaking and wonderful at the same time. It is a book I will return to again and again

  30. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Arrestingly beautiful, heartbreaking. Difficult to put down. Excellent poetry I won't try to compare to anything else I've read. Highly recommended. Arrestingly beautiful, heartbreaking. Difficult to put down. Excellent poetry I won't try to compare to anything else I've read. Highly recommended.

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