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7:00 PM19:00




Marcel Khalife will deliver a speech to pay tribute to the life and works of Mahmoud Darwish. In addition, he will perform a couple of his own compositions. Preceding Khalife's discussion, there will be Arabic and English readings of Darwish's poetry by OMAR KHALIFAH & TALA HADID.

Mahmoud Darwish was born on March 13, 1941 in Al Birweh, Palestine. Recognized as the Palestinian national poet and an icon, Darwish?s work embodies the Palestinian cause from the nakba until his passing in 2008. 

His earliest poetry used imagery that could relate intimately to Palestinian villagers. He wrote of olive groves and orchards, the rocks and plants, basil and thyme. In spite of an apparent simplicity, his short poems have several levels of meaning and express an array of emotions from anger, outrage and injustice to irony and a universal humanity. For Darwish the issue of Palestine became a prism for an internationalist feeling. His work embodies the Palestinian plight and also celebrated the beauty of Palestinian culture and identity.


Marcel Khalife is a distinguished composer, singer, and oud player that is best known for liberating the oud, an instrument integral to Arabic culture, from its traditionally strict techniques, expanding its musical possibilities, and contributing to its artistic and cultural revival. Over the decades, Khalife?s music and his own compositions have signified peace, reconciliation and breaking boundaries. He uses musical influences from both Christian and Muslim traditions to create a sound that is always innovative, inspiring, and beautiful. Many of his recordings utilize traditional instruments mixed with western mainstays depicting a sophisticated musical marriage of classical Arabic and jazz music. As a composer, he demonstrates a deep attachment to and a profound understanding of the power of the written word. Khalife has distinguished himself not only as a virtuosic oud player but also as a talented composer.

Khalife's educational and humanitarian contributions are as numerous as his creative endeavors. A tireless promoter of the arts and culture in the Arab world, he has been the recipient of many prominent awards and has performed in the most prestigious music venues in the world. In his quest to renew the vibrancy and significance of the Arabic song, he has based songs on the words of some of the great contemporary Arab poets, particularly the Palestinian poet and journalist who eloquently wrote of the exile, struggles, and hopes of the Palestinian people, Mahmoud Darwish.

Mahmoud Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people, the eloquent witness of exile and belonging, exquisitely tuned singer of images that invoke, link, and shine a brilliant light into the world’s whole heart. What he speaks has been embraced by readers around the world?his in an utterly necessary voice, unforgettable once discovered.
— Naomi Shihab Nye


The Middle East Institute

Room 417, Altschul Auditorium, International Affairs Building
1190 Amsterdam Avenue (enter gates on 116th and Broadway), New York, Ny 10027

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