Her writing is spare, precise, and deeply evocative. It somehow finds the color, even the haunting loveliness, of horror and tragedy, which makes it all the more human and all the more quietly devastating.
She blogs here, and her winning entry for a writing contest at Mondoweiss can be found at this link. Here’s Phil Weiss’s description of her and how impressed he was when he met her in a political session via Skype from Gaza.
Her prize for winning the Mondoweiss competition was a stack of books of her choice. The problem, of course, was getting the books into Gaza. It took more than a year to get the books to her. But they are finally in her hands.
Here’s a close-up of her stack of books:
I nearly fell out of my chair the day I saw this photograph. There were tears in my eyes. It made my day, my week, my year for my book to come full circle like that, for such an amazing and talented writer in Gaza to have heard of my humble attempt to capture at least some parts of her situation in a way Americans can relate to, and to want to read it for herself.
Below is a sample of her writing, my favorite of hers that I’ve read. After you read it, you’ll understand why I’m so honored to be in that collection in her hands. It’s so humbling to be a part of this community.
A Little Girl
Rawan Yaghi, 17 years old, Gaza Strip
Sleep in here sleep little girl
I would keep you so warm
Sleep… darling I’ll hold you so firm
You’re here in my lap no need for fright
Keep on your happy sight
Sun will shine
Birds will wake the sleepy night
My Mom suddenly stopped singing and stopped calmly feeling my hair. Her hand also stopped shaking. She was keeping me on her lap, trying to keep me warm in that cold night. It was too dark that I could barely see her face. She was very warm, but she gradually lost that comforting heat. I tried to keep it, so I covered her with the small blanket she was covering me with and I stayed in her lap. Some minutes passed; however, she didn’t continue singing, and her body kept going colder. There was so much going on outside. I could hear a man weakly weeping. I thought she was listening to the sounds outside trying to know what was happening.
I sat beside her, for, then, she was so cold that I couldn’t stay in her lap. “Mama, why is the man outside crying?” She didn’t answer. She kept listening. I said no word afterwards. I may have slept for a short while after the noise was a little bit lower.
When I woke up I saw my mother with her eyes closed covered with my blanket. I thought she must have been awake the whole time I was sleeping, that’s why I didn’t try to wake her up; she would get in a really bad mood if I do. I poured her some water and put it in front of her. She was still cold. I was cold too but I thought she was so much colder. I sat right in the opposite of her and kept waiting her to wake up and drink my glass of water and then thank me for it. Thinking of my dad and two brothers who got out of the house carrying a white shirt and how much noise happened after they got out, while my mother followed them so fast and came back so slow, with that noise frequently coming back, I kept staring at her cold body.
Now, two years later I understand it all, the cold, the whimper, my dad’s white shirt, my brothers, everything, even the mess outside. I understand why the men who came that morning took only me and why they wouldn’t listen to me yelling at them saying that my mother is still there feeling very cold.