Wednesday, November 14, 2007

So What

"Art is worthless unless it plants a measure of splendor in people's hearts."
-Taha Muhammad Ali

This line has been in my head since I heard Mr. Muhammad Ali read some of his poems on Monday night. Taha's translator introduced the renowned poet as the "Thelonius Monk of Palestinian Literature," a description that suits him nicely. Self-taught and modest (Taha still runs a souvenir shop near his home in Nazareth,) Taha's poems are often simple observations about growing old and "the bliss of sleep and tea," and the small details of life living in a war zone. This conversational nature prepares you for the way Taha likes to conclude a phrase with a hard thought to ponder; never bitter, never angry, but certainly eye-opening to the other world we always read about in the news.

Taha's latest collection of poems, So What, is very excellent.

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