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Never Mind: Twenty Poems And A Story Paperback – December 1, 2000

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Ali keeps a souvenir shop in Nazareth, where he has lived since returning from Lebanon a year after the Israeli army, in 1948, razed his once-nearby hometown, Suffuriya. Self-taught in modern literature, he exemplifies the marriage of folk-cultural rootedness and cosmopolitanism also found in the American poet Wendell Berry and Orkney's George Mackay Brown. His free-verse poems, often set in Suffuriya as he recalls it, subtly disclose the implications of personal stories and situations. In "Empty Words," for instance, he castigates his notebook for containing no words magical enough to turn him into "a rock on a hill . . . /unable to see or hear, / be sad or suffer." That image elicits a futile revolutionary outburst and then his living sorrow over losing "her / to whom I bade / farewell at the harbor pier / in Haifa forty years ago," during a crisis that still haunts world consciousness. Besides poems, the little book contains a splendid introduction to Ali the man and storyteller, and a sensuous prose story of childhood disappointment. Ray Olson
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"In Muhammad Ali's world, what appears to be placid can suddenly become disconcerting.... He is a beguiling story-teller who maintains a tone of credibility and lucidity without diluting the mysterious or distressing aspects of his tale.... By avoiding commonplace response to everyday experience [Muhammad Ali] has written poems that are fragile and graceful and fresh." --John Palatella, The Nation

"A deeply humane collection .... Muhammad Ali speaks with an emotional forthrightness and unflinching honesty … He has developed a style that seems both ancient and new, deceptively simple and movingly direct." --Edward Hirsch, The Washington Post

His patient, insistent and often beautiful iterations of who is who and what is what are as compelling and evocative as the faces and places that any reader has himself or herself loved ... It is immediately evident that the poet's vision of experience is equally applicable to Arabs and Jews, kings and paupers, the quarter of the world's population that is Chinese, and the other three-quarters as well. Never Mind is a must." --Ha aretz

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Ibis Editions; 1st edition (December 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9659012527
  • ISBN-13: 978-9659012527
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 5 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,580,857 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By William Herman on August 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
Taha's limpid and lyrical poems do what wondrous poetry always does. They deliver sensual plesure with their music and special sensibility--they tell us what it means to be alive, in particular ways, "touch the herbs/the wild artichoke and chicory," and to grieve over our losses, again in particular ways: "fatigue, hunger, vagrancy/debt..." These poems embrace the land of Taha's origins, yet never veer into ideology or hatred. They glow with a love of what we are and what we must suffer. Bravo.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Alyssa A. Lappen VINE VOICE on July 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
The 89 pages of stories and poems here are introduced by a fawning essay by Gabriel Levin, almost half as long. Levin's admiration rests on his false belief that Taha at age seventeen "was forced to leave with his family for Lebanon, after his village was razed to the ground by the Israeli army in the Arab-Israeli war of 1948," in what he describes as "the shattering and exodus of the Palestinian community." Unfortunately, empirical historical evidence doesn't support Levin's sad fairy tale.

Undoubtedly, Taha fled Saffuriya to Lebanon in July 1948, and returned with his family in 1949 to Nazareth, where they later became Israeli citizens. But IDF forces did NOT drive Taha or his family to flee Saffuriya. Actually, "Saffuriya's inhabitants" engaged in many violent incursions into Jewish communities, and fled BEFORE the IDF took the village---because they expected and feared "revenge for their numerous onslaughts upon Jews," according to operational orders, oral testimonies and diaries cited by historian Yoav Gelber, in Palestine 1948 (p. 165). The villagers fled of their own accord, BEFORE the battle, fearful of retaliation for their collective role in violent attacks against Jewish civilians.

Moreover, Israel's attack on Saffuriya was defensive. Even Levin's 37-page essay admits that Taha's village "had sheltered local militiamen." Indeed, in the 1930s, Saffuriya served as a center for anti-Jewish radicalism and attacks. In 1948, it was the command post of Arab Liberation Army leader Fawzi al-Qawuqji, who rejected the June 11, 1948, UN-imposed truce. Furthermore, Madlul Abbas' Hittin regiment controlled Nazareth, negatively influencing villages like Saffuriya.

Now to the poems.
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6 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Nevin Patton on January 17, 2003
Format: Paperback
Beautiful. Expresses the themes and feelings that come from an identity with a particular place which is a universal experience. Love, home, self, loss, wonder, birth, time, the sweet and sardonic goings on of one's community, and one's own life there. Taha may be Palestinian, but to me he is affiliated with the monks of Tibet who sit on platforms in the Himalayas, on the roof of the world, and chant, constantly, weaving us with their chests and humming into the rythms of order in universe. And if you ever have the chance to see and hear him, you'll agree, I think.
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15 of 31 people found the following review helpful By RUTHEE on July 11, 2006
Format: Paperback
There may, in fact, be a book about the Palestinian Arab dilemma waiting to be written, but this treacly and biased pretense is not it. The Arab's hard turn in Palestine came as a result of an unrelenting war to extirpate all Jews from all of Palestine. If and when Arab writers really confront these facts they will properly blame their "leaders" instead of the habitual Israel bashing. Then some real poetry and literature may emerge instead of this amateur effort.
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