Mahmoud Darwish Office
We still maintain Mahmoud Darwish’s office in the center exactly how it was when he left, and it’s open for visitation under the team’s supervision.
When Mahmoud Darwish moved to Ramallah in 1997 to re-launch al-Carmel Literary Magazine, which he co-edited; he was hosted by Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center. From a room on the first floor, Mahmoud Darwish worked on editing al-Carmel magazine during the last decade before his death. Originally Darwish founded al-Carmel in Beirut in 1981 and then moved to Nicosia in 1982 after the invasion of Beirut.
Fakhri Saleh describes a day in the life of Mahmoud Darwish:
“In Ramallah, he wakes up at 8am and gets ready to go to al-Carmel magazine, whose office is located at Khalil Sakakini Center and doesn’t exceed a ten-minute walk from his house. At 10:00 am in his office he meets his friends whom are writers, intellectuals, and politicians and whoever else desires to meet up with him. His office at Sakakini Cultural Center was more of a forum where he exchanged ideas and news with his visitors. But he spent most of his time editing many articles and material he received to get published at al-Carmel, where it gets printed in Ramallah and is distributed in Palestine, and then in Amman, Jordan and the Arab World.”
(Fakhri Saleh, in besieged Ramallah, a day in the life of Mahmoud Darwish, al-Hayat Newspaper, March 6, 2002).
Poem: “He sees himself as absent”
In this poem Mahmoud Darwish describes an evening at Sakakini Cultural Center:
I’ve been here for ten years, and this evening
I sit in the small garden on a plastic chair
And look at the place, dazzled with the red stone.
Counting the number of steps leading to my room
On the second floor, eleven steps.
To the right, you’ll find the big fig tree
Providing shadow for the peach trees
And to the left, you’ll find the Lutheran Church. And on the side
Of the stone stairs is a deserted well and rusty bucket and flowers
Unwatered and looking to absorb drops of milk of the night’s beginning
I’m here, with forty people, to watch a small play
That talks about curfew, and its forgotten heroes are spread
In the garden, on the stairs and wide balcony
An improvised play, or still being written
Just like our lives. I look into the open window of my room
And wonder: am I really there?
I like to roll the question on the stairs,
And include it in the play: in the last chapter
Everything will remain the same …
The fig tree in the garden. The Lutheran Church
On the opposite side.
Sunday in its right spot of the calendar. The abandoned well and the rusty bucket.
As for me, I will not be in my room nor in
the garden. As the text requires: Someone must be absent
As to ease the heavy load of the place!