Since pre-Islamic days poetry has been the mass art form of the Arabic language. In modern times poets in the region have had a greater impact on popular culture than novelists, and there can be no doubt that Mahmud Darwish, Samih al-Qasim and Adonis are among the leading poets of the Arab world today. Victims of a Map presents fifteen translated poems by each poet. It includes thirteen poems by Darwish never before published in book form, even in Arabic, and a long work by Adonis written during the 1982 siege of Beirut, also published here for the first time.
Mahmud Darwish has become perhaps the best known Palestinian poet in the world. He was born in 1942 in al-Barweh, a village in Palestine, and his first collection of poetry was published in 1960. Samih al-Qasim is a Palestinian born to a Druze family in Galilee in 1939. He grew up in Nazareth and has long been politically active in Israel, suffering imprisonment many times. A prolific writer, he had published six collections of poetry by the age of thirty. Adonis was born in Syria in 1930. He was exiled to Beirut in 1956 and later became a Lebanese citizen. A critic as well as a poet, he founded the prestigious journal Mawaqif, and has exercised an enormous influence on Arabic literature.