RAMALLAH, August 20, 2014 – (WAFA) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas mourned Wednesday beloved Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qassim, who died at the age of 75 on Tuesday after a long battle with cancer.
“Samih Al-Qasim, a poet with a grand national voice, has passed away after a life full of giving which he mostly dedicated to defend truth, justice and land,” stated Abbas.
Members of the PLO Executive Committee also mourned the great poet. The Committee said in a press release: “The great poet, whose name was associated with the revolution and resistance poetry, devoted his life for defending the Palestinian national culture against distortion and obliteration attempts, serving as a mouthpiece for the Palestinian people’s pains, suffering and resistance against the Israeli occupation.”
One of the foremost Arab and Palestinians poets who achieved fame as one of the resistance and revolutions poets, Samih Al-Qasim, was born in 1939 in Zarqa, Jordan, to an Arab Palestinian Druze family from the village of Rama in Galilee. He grew up and went into school in Rama and Nazareth and experienced firsthand the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948.
During the 1950s, he started to write nationalist poems, making him one of the “resistance poets” along sides others such as late Mahmoud Darwish. He became an outspoken opponent of oppression and racism. He joined the Israeli Communist Party before devoting his life to poetry writing.
During his political life, Al-Qassim was arrested and placed under house arrests many times. He received death threats while he was inside his homeland and abroad. He was among the first Druze to refuse conscription in the Israeli army. He also worked as a teacher, worker in Haifa bay and as a journalist.
Al-Qassim’s poems were widely read across Palestine and the Arab World as a symbol for national struggle against foreign occupation. Some of his poems became widely recited, such as the song “Muntasiba al Qamati Amshi, Marfou‘ al Hamati Amshi” (Upright I walk, with my head raised, I walk, in my hand an olive branch and on my shoulder my coffin and I walk, and I walk, and I, and I, and I walk) set to music by Marecel Khalife.
He also headed the Arab Writers Union and Palestinian Arab Writers General Union since their establishment. He served as the Honorary Editor-in-Chief for the Nazareth-based newspaper of Kol Al-‘Arab.
He published more than 60 books in different genres, mainly poetry, stories, drama, articles and translations. His literary works were issued in seven volumes by several publishing houses in Jerusalem, Beirut and Cairo. Many of his poems were translated into English, French, Turkish, German, Spanish, Greek, Italian, Czech, Vietnamese, Persian and Hebrew among others.