Samih al-Qasim was one of Palestine’s best-loved and most prolific poets. His work exemplifies the poetry of resistance that for decades emanated from inside the territories occupied by Israel in 1948. Samih and I were born in the same village and we grew up together in families that had been close friends over several generations. This tribute is a personal reflection on the life and work of a man who was equal parts poetry and resistance.
Shawqi Kassis was born in Haifa, Palestine, to a family from al-Rameh in the Galilee. After obtaining a PhD in Microbiology from Tel Aviv University in 1979, he moved to the United States and worked in academia and in the pharmaceutical industry. In 2004, he established Arabic and Hebrew programs at Drexel University in Philadelphia and since 2009 has devoted his energies to writing and lecturing on a variety of topics related to his homeland and to Arabic language and literature.