IADL interview with Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour: “Being a woman and a poet in Palestine means that I carry in my writings the message of freedom”

The following article was published in the March 2024 special issue of the International Review of Contemporary Law, the journal of the IADL.

IADL Interview with Palestinian Poet Dareen Tatour

“Being a woman and a poet in Palestine means that I carry in my writings the message of freedom”!

First of all, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude for accepting to conduct this interview with us.  Every year on March 8th, as IADL, we prepare a specific online publication for International Women’s Day. And this year, we decided to dedicate our issue to the voices of Palestinian women.

IADL: First, could you tell our readers what it means to be a woman in general, but then a woman poet, in the occupied territories of Palestine?

DT: Being a woman means being a teacher, graduating at her hands of doctors, teachers, craftsmen, and workers, but being a Palestinian woman, in addition to all of these, will graduate at her hands of free people and resistance fighters, and I will participate on the path to achieving freedom. Being a Palestinian woman means being the mother of a martyr or a prisoner or the wife of a fighter pursued by the occupation. The Palestinian woman is the patient woman, she is the key to freedom and its light, she is the mother, the sister, the prisoner and the martyr, she is the whole of life, she is Palestine. The Palestinian woman is the factory of men. She is the one who gives birth to resistance fighters and raises them to love freedom and to love Palestine and dignity. She is the supportive sister who stands in support of those seeking freedom. She is the lover and waiting lover of her imprisoned husband who has been sentenced to several life terms. She is the first spark that exploded in the face of the occupation to fight side by side with the man in the battle for freedom and the struggle against occupation. As for the Palestinian woman who did not have the opportunity to participate in direct struggle, she has another job, which is to teach the steadfastness of the Palestinian people and build generations that know well the meaning of Palestine and the meaning of the homeland. Being a woman and a poet in Palestine means that I carry in my writings the message of freedom, that I resist the occupation with every letter I write, that I support my people, and that I know that I will be a target for the occupation authorities whenever I write something, because the pen is the truth that this occupation fears and does not want to see me reach. It means that I am part of the formation of political and cultural awareness, and that my poems become a memory.

IADL: As a Palestinian woman, your poetry not only focuses on the struggles and sacrifices of women but also consistently emphasizes resistance. How do you define the relationship between your poetry and your identity? Can you explain to our readers the emotional and cognitive conditions that determine the prominent themes in your poems?

DT: One of the most important things that distinguishes Palestinian poetry is that it has an important and fundamental role in preserving identity and shaping the Palestinian national consciousness. Once I was born in Palestine and became a poet, my poetic identity was formed by writing resistance poetry and political poetry. My poems carry a special rhythm to the Palestinian story and document it through poetry. The story has become a new synonym for the absence of justice and the feeling of stability, freedom, and security. I consider my poems to be artistic documentation of the life I live and the identity that represents me.

Palestine in my poems is me and I am Palestine.

I consider poetry to be one of the most important cultural sources that define identity. Through my poems, I present my personal experience and the experience of my community and country, which reflects the social, cultural and historical reality of Palestine and enhances belonging and loyalty to it. The poetry I write also includes mention of many Palestinian figures and cultural values that express national identity. This is how I contribute to preserving the cultural, political, linguistic and historical heritage of Palestine, disseminate it and contribute to introducing others to it. I write about everything I experience and document it in an artistic way. The people who inspire me to write poems are my people and the air of my country.

IADL:  You were imprisoned for three years and convicted due to your poem “Resist my people, resist them.” Could you share the story behind this poem and its significance to you?

DT: It is a poem that documents my feelings for what I experienced in 2014, when the incident of the martyrdom of the child Muhammad Abu Khudair from Jerusalem occurred at the hands of settlers, after they kidnapped him from the street in the dawn hours while he was heading to pray in the mosque during the month of Ramadan, and then they tortured him to death and then burning his body. Likewise, the incident of burning the child, Ali Dawabsha, while he was sleeping with his mother and father from the village of Duma, at the hands of a group of settlers who burned this family’s house. This fire led to the martyrdom of the infant, Ali Dawabsha, along with his mother and father. In the same year, while I was watching television, I was greatly affected when I saw a scene documenting the moment the young woman, Hadeel Al-Hashlamoun, from Hebron, was sniped at one of the checkpoints by one of the occupation soldiers because she refused to take off her hijab and submit to search. The scene was very difficult for me as a woman.

I could not bear these scenes. I felt intense anger sweeping over me. I wanted to express this anger, so I only felt this feeling while writing the poem “Resist, My People,” which tells about these three incidents. The images of child martyrs did not leave my imagination for a moment, so the poem was a dedication to their souls.

IADL: Can we ask for details about your trial process and the conditions of your imprisonment?

DT:  I prefer not to go into details, because they are very long and boring. It is better to talk about poetry and poems, not about how a poet and a poem were tried and imprisoned. I will sum it up and say that it was three very difficult years. I lived through hell. The occupation authorities arrested me and imprisoned me for three years. Because of a poem,.. I came out of prison with three books, which I wrote in their prison. One of these books contains 168 poems. They imprisoned me because of a poem and I left prison with 168 poems. This sums up the whole issue.

IADL:  Your poem “Detaining a poem” essentially encapsulates the severe injustice you’ve faced. However, it’s not just a narrative of injustice but the poem itself is protesting. Can we say that poetry serves as a call to action and a means of resistance for you?

DT:  Yes, I resist with poetry. In Palestine, we are all resisting the occupation in our own way. I resist with culture and writing, by spreading the truth that the occupation always and forever tries to suppress.

Here, the role of resistance poetry is highlighted, which enhances the national image of the homeland, its components, and its resistance, in confronting the occupation and the tools it possesses to confront the occupation’s practices.

Palestinian resistance literature is a very special exception, as it deals with the issue of a homeland that was stolen 80 years ago.

IADL: Are you still in exile?

DT: In fact, I am not in exile. I decided to return to Palestine and stay with my people in everything they are going through. I could not bear to remain in exile any longer and decided to return even though I was threatened with death and imprisonment, and even though since the beginning of the war I have been receiving dozens of death threat messages every day from Zionist parties calling themselves the Price Tag Group. I decided to go back and said to myself, “What will happen to my people will happen to me.”

Today, thank God, I am in Palestine. A true intellectual must expose himself to dangers and make sacrifices. With this conviction, I decided to return to Palestine.

Regarding genocide and the international community, I will say it frankly. This is the community that gives the green light to the occupation to kill and exterminate us. The double standards are crystal clear in the way it deals with the Ukraine-Russia war. We Palestinians do not have white skin and blue eyes. And we are still waiting until this international community stands with our right to freedom and stops this war of extermination.

Instead, it appears to be the job of this international community to protect Israel and provide it with all the weapons, equipment and material support it needs to complete its war of annihilation against us. Every crime committed by the occupying army exposes the bad behavior of the international community, which practices intentional double standards towards the Palestinian people on the one hand, and towards the “Israeli” occupation on the other hand.

IADL:  Where do you see the role of your art in the struggle against occupation and genocide? How do you define the responsibility of artists in the current situation?

DT:  From the first moment of the occupation’s aggression against Gaza and the beginning of the genocide, I began writing and documenting everything I see. A book was published in the English language entitled:

A Balcony Over a City Engulfed by War


I had to write about everything I saw, document the stories so that the truth would remain.

A poet or writer who does not write about genocide does not deserve the title of writer or poet. This is our role in the awareness battle to support the steadfastness of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

In the face of the blood, sacrifices, massive destruction, stifling siege and genocide in Gaza, cultural, cognitive and public support remains below the required level, because the battle is extremely cruel and important.

The true intellectual is not separated from reality, and does not reside in extreme isolation, but rather is motivated by the principles of truth and fair justice in defense of the weak.

IADL: Do you have a special message for women around the world in the context of International Women’s Day?

DT:  Every woman in the world must know what Palestinian women suffer because of the occupation, and remember what Palestinian women suffer today in Gaza and their lack of privacy while they are in the displacement centers in the besieged southern Gaza Strip, amidst the harsh conditions they face to provide the minimum necessities of life, the simplest of which is their inability to use bathrooms or sleep alone in a private room. With the prevention of the entry of aid by the occupation, women’s sanitary supplies were not provided to them.

Remember that Palestinian women in light of this war are doing very difficult jobs, such as searching for food in order to save their children or chopping firewood to cook food, sitting in front of a fire that emits smoke for long hours in the open, and that they suffer from difficult psychological conditions because of being forced to leave her home, or because it was bombed by soldiers, or because of the loss of the necessities of life, or because of the loss of family members and children.

Remember that Palestinian women have been subjected, for 80 years, to a multifaceted attack of racial discrimination, systematic violence, and denial of the right to self-determination due to the occupation.

Dareen Tatour – Biography

Dareen Tatour is a Palestinian poet, photographer, filmmaker, political activist, and social media activist from Reineh, Palestine. In 2018, she was tried and convicted in an Israeli occupation court for inciting violence and supporting a terrorist organization, following the publication of a poem on social media. She was released in 2018 after serving a prison term.

Tatour is the recipient of the OXFAM Novib/PEN award 2019 for freedom of expression. A Hebrew online magazine, Maayan, awarded Tatour the 2016 prize for creativity in struggle, and she was also awarded the Danish Carl Scharenberg Prize for standing against injustice through her poetry in 2017. In 2020 she won the Freedom of Expression Award in Norway – Oslo.


  • The Last Invasion, Nazareth: El Wattan Books, 2010
  • My Threatening Poem, Arabic, Tunis: Dyar Publishing and Distribution House, 2018.
  • Threatening Poem – Memoir of a Poet in Occupation Prisons, English Version. Scotland: Drunk Muse Press, 2020
  • I Sing From the Window of Exile – English and Arabic. Scotland: Drunk Muse Press, 2023
  • A Balcony Over a City Engulfed by War  – English. Scotland: Drunk Muse Press, 2023

Poetry in English Translation:

  • “Detaining a Poem”, “Beware” and “Story of a Child”, translated by Andrew Leber,  Brooklyn Rail, March 2018.
  • “A Poet’s Hallucinations”, translated by Jonathan Wright, in ArabLit, September 2017.
  • “Resist, My People, Resist Them”, translated by Tariq al Haydar, in ArabLit,  April 2016.

Other Artistic Ventures:

  • Survivors Recount, a documentary film on the uprooted village Al-Damoun in the Galilee, 2015, aired in Tamra, in the Galillee
  • Tell Me About My Homeland, 2012, an exhibition of photographs and poems displayed in Nazareth, Haifa, Tamra, Renne, Shefar’am, Amman (Jordan) and the Palestinian refugee camp Al Yarmouk in Syria. The exhibition was slated to open in Gaza in 2015, but was curtailed after Tatour’s arrest in October, 2015.
  • Survivors Recount, a documentary film on the uprooted village Al-Damoun in the Galilee, 2015.
  • “I, Dareen Tatour”, 2018, a play in collaboration with theatre artist Einat Weitzman, directed by Nitzan Cohen and performed by Weitzman. This play has been shown at Tamu-na Theatre, Tel Aviv since October 2018 to packed audiences, and also abroad.
  • Min Hotfulla Dikt, 2022, a play in Sweden.


  • 2016: Maayan’s Award for Creativity in Struggle
  • 2017: Carl Scharenberg Prize for standing against injustice through poetry
  • 2019: OXFAM Novib/PEN award 2019 for freedom of expression.
  • 2020: The Freedom of Expression Award in Norway – Oslo.
  • 2020: ICORN: She was a guest on the ICORN program for two years. 15-09-2020 – 01-11-2022: ICORN residency in Sweden.
  • 2023: The Palestine Book Awards 2023 – Creative AwardWinner – “I Sing From the Window of Exile”.

A Poem’s Arrest

One day
They detained me
They shackled me
They chained both my body and shadow
No, all of me, being thorough
They then said, “Search her!”
Terrorism is what lies within her
My heart, they turned it upside down
They searched it through
My eyes, they searched those, too
They inspected my emotions and feelings
From my eyes, they ripped out the beats of my wishes and aspirations
From my heart, they forbid, on paper, pouring out the meanings
They then said, “Of her, beware”
In her pockets, a weapon she does hide
Inspect her
Take her bombs away
Inspect me, they did
To accuse me, they then said
In her pocket
We only found some letters
We solely found the poem

اعْتِقا لُ قَصيدَةُ
ذاتَُ يَوْ مُ
كَبَّلوا جِسْمي وَظِلِ يُ
…بَلُْ وَ كلِ ي
ث مَُّ قالوا: فَتِ شوها
!…إِنَّه الإِرْهاب فيها
…قَلَّبوا فيَُّ الف ؤاد
وَالع يون
فَتَّشوا حَتَّى المَشاعِرُْ
مِنُْ عيونيُ أَخْرَجوا نبَْض الأَمانيُ
مِنُْ ف ؤادي حَرَّزوا رَسْم المَعاني
ث مَُّ قالوا: احْذَروها
في ال جيوبُِ إِنَّها ت خْفي سِلاحًا
فَتِ شوهاُ
انْزَعوا مِنْها القَنابلُْ
:ث مَُّ قالوا لاتِ هامي
لَمُْ نَجِدُْ
في جَيْبِها إِلَّاُ حروفًا
لَمُْ نَجِدُْ إِلَّاُ القَصيدَهُْ

A Woman’s Scream
Oh, my life, that lives
In the heart of pages
Look here—
Our sorrows have shut the doors of
Our wishes and desires,
And their ghosts have embraced our color
Until, combined, we appeared to be one —
The ink is in the poetry of anxiety.
Look at them, sinking their fangs
Into my waist
Sucking out my flowers and their aroma
To my youth, my springtime,
They gave it a death blow
They stole my life—
Erased it from existence
Setting the season of insomnia
Oh, life, I got tired
Let me travel to be away
And self-isolate
In my land’s silence for good
Let me as I can’t beat it—
It is charged by an eye of the sun
Or a twilight
Oh destiny, you will not break the cuffs
Shackling me
Hope doesn’t quench the trees of my
Repression’s thirst
I will keep on living in isolation
Feeding on the fires of time and burn
Oh, how long I lived in poverty
The flower of life haunts me
I water it with the fountain of struggle
I build it out of the determination of the youth
I play and sing for existence
I stare at the birth of peace
In my eyes, I show all types of
Beams and lights
Yet they are the sorrows, oh,
My life
Which have haunted me just like
Names in the middle of a place
Just like the sound of echoes.
Oh, my haunted letters
In the sea of drowning
Let me struggle and fight in the nothingness
Alone with the sorrows, with the tears of regret
The pain shall remain within me, alive,
As long as I ‘m pleased with silence
Oh, my dream, which from its youth
Was seized —
Our silence wreaked havoc in us
And our tears turned into seas—
Our patience has had enough of us
We, together, will definitely rebel
If we want to be
Come on—
Let’s shout louder
In the face of the ghosts of darkness.
Until when, oh my pain
Will you burn my heart with tears?
Until when, oh screams, will you
Remain in women’s hearts

صَرْخَة أ نْثىُ

يا عمْرِيَُ ٱلمَسْكونَُ في قَلْبُِ ٱلوَرَقُْ
:ا نْ ظرُْ ه نا
أَحْزان نا قَدُْ أَوْصَدَتُْ بابَُ ٱل منى
وَتَعانَقَتُْ أَشْبا حها مَعَُ لَوْنِناُ
حَتَّى بَدَوْنا مِثْلَهاُ
اَلحِبْرَُ في شِعْرُِ ٱلقَلَقُْ
ا نْظرُْ إلَيْها كَيْفَُ تَغْرِ سُ نابَهاُ
في خاصِريُ
تَمْتَ صُ زَهْري وَُٱلعَبَقُْ
قَتَلَتُْ رَبيعي كلَّه سَرَقَتُْ مِنَُ ال دنْياُ حَياتيُ
أَعْتَقَتُْ فَصْلَُ ٱلْأَرَقُْ
يا عمْ رُ إِ نِي قَدُْ تَعِبْتُْ
دَعْني أ سافِرُْ لِلرَّحيلُِ وَأَنْزَويُ
في صَمْتُِ أَرْضي لِلَْْبَدُْ
دَعْني فَلَنُْ أَقْوى عَلَيْها إِنَّها
مَشْحونة مِنُْ عَينُِ شَمْ سُ أَوُْ شَفَقُْ
لَنُْ تَكْسِرَُ ٱلأَغْلالَُ عَ نِيُ ياُ قَدَرُْ
لا تَرْتَوي أَشْجا رُ قَهْري بُِٱلأَمَلُْ
سَأَظَ لُ أَحْيا بُِٱنْطِواءُْ
أَقْتا تُ مِنُْ نارُِ الزَّمانُِ وَأَحْتَرِقُْ
ما دامَُ يَسْ جن ني ال سكاتُْ
ما دامَُ يَقْ طن نيُ ٱلحَزَنُْ
كَمُْ عِشْ تُ في ت رْبُِ ٱلمَآلُْ
يَنْتاب ني زَهْ رُ ٱلحَياهُْ
أَسْقيهُِ مِنُْ نَبْعُِ ال نِضالُْ
أَبْنيهُِ مِنُْ عَزْمُِ الشَّبابُْ
أَلْهو.. أ غَ نِيُ لِلْ وجودُْ
أَرْنو لِميلادُِ السَّلامُْ
أ بْدي بِعَيْنيُ كلَُّ نو رُ
لٰكِنَّها ٱلأَحْزا نُ ياُ عمْري أَناُ
ظَلَّتُْ ت لاحِق ني كَما ٱلأَسْماءُِ في صَدْرُِ ٱلمَكانُِ
وَمِثْلَُ أَصْواتُِ الصَّدى
يا حَرْفيَُ ٱلمَسْكونَُ في بَحْرُِ ٱلغَرَقُْ
دَعْني أ صارِعُْ في ٱلعَدَمُْ
وَحْدي مَعَُ ٱلأَحْزانُِ مَعُْ دَمْعُِ النَّدَمُْ
سَأَظَ لُ يَسْ كن ني ٱلأَلَمُْ
ما دمْ تُ أَرْضى بِال سكاتُْ
يا حلْمِيَُ ٱلمَخْطوفَُ مِنُْ حِضْنُِ ال صبا
قَدُْ عاثَُ فينا صَمْت ناُ
قَدُْ صارَُ بَحْرًا دَمْع نا
قَدُْ مَلَُّ مِنَّا صَبْ رناُ
إِنَّا مَعًا حَتْمًا نَثورُْ
إِمَّا أَرَدْنا أَنُْ نَكونُْ
هَيَّا بِنا ن عْلي ال صراخُْ
في وَجْهُِ أَشْباحُِ الظَّلامُْ
فَإِلى مَتى ياُ حرْقَتي تَكْوينَُ
صَدْري بُِٱلْب كاءْ؟ وَإِلى مَتى ياُ صَرْخَةًُ
!تَبْقَيْنَُ في قَلْبُِ ال نِساءُْ

All articles published in the International Review of Contemporary Law reflect only the position of their author and not the position of the journal, nor of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers.