Book Reviews

Review: Rifqa by Mohammed El-Kurd

I don’t normally read poetry, but when I saw Rifqa cross my feed for Read Palestine, I knew I had to read it. And what a collection it is! This is a must read for those who love poetry. Keep reading this book review of Rifqa for my full thoughts.


Rifqa is Mohammed El-Kurd’s debut collection of poetry, written in the tradition of Ghassan Kanfani’s Palestinian Resistance Literature. The book narrates the author’s own experience of dispossession in Sheikh Jarrah—an infamous neighborhood in Jerusalem, Palestine, whose population of refugees continues to live on the brink of homelessness at the hands of the Israeli government and US-based settler organizations. The book, named after the author’s late grandmother who was forced to flee from Haifa upon the genocidal establishment of Israel, makes the observation that home takeovers and demolitions across historical Palestine are not reminiscent of 1948 Nakba, but are in fact a continuation of it: a legalized, ideologically-driven practice of ethnic cleansing.


Rifqa is one of those poetry collections, or books, I could read over and over again. One of my favorite quotes was, “Solidarity is a series of choices we make with one another”. It’s a story about dispossession, but also about how home is a collective memory. It’s pieces of ourselves, moments of our lives captured, and it’s been stolen, occupied. Rifqa explores the burdens of education, of screaming into a voice, of constantly explaining. The luxury of anger.

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The burdens they are forced to carry. It’s readable and does best when you have some time to sit with each poem. Rifqa is lyrical and while I found the beginning the most compelling, it’s something I’d read again. With great footnotes, it’s an easy first step for those who want to educate themselves. Find Rifqa on Goodreads, Storygraph, Amazon,, & Blackwells.


Do you often read poetry?

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