Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

New review: Ruth Padel’s ‘Learning to make an Oud in Nazareth’

Electronic Intifada, 24th September 2014

The Holocaust and the extermination of Europe’s Jews usually appear in juxtaposition to the issue of Palestine either in clumsy attempts to equate the two, or in even more clumsy attempts to paint supporters of Palestinian liberation as anti-Semites.
But in Padel’s hands the two issues do belong together, because the overriding theme of this book, summed up in the final line of the final poem, is that “Making is our defense against the dark.” That “making” might be a child’s fighting-dancing in Jalazone, or the physical creativity of eroticism, or the music of the first and last poems in the book.
The painter, the oud-maker, the musician, the wood-carver in the Nazi death camp and the ordinary person who defies the daily checkpoints to continue making love and art are all arrayed together against “the dark” — which, according to situation, might be the silence of a musician’s broken hands or “air attacks on Gaza.”

The full review is here.

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