Biographical Note

Tamim Al-Barghouti is Palestinian poet, columnist and political scientist. Al-Barghouti is probably the most acclaimed Arab Poet of his generation. He is known for the capacity of his poetry to draw the attention of hundreds of thousands of people.  The reception of his poetry among a diverse audience from various backgrounds and age groups is a testimony to the vitality of the centuries-old tradition of classical Arabic poetry.

Al-Barghouti was born in 1977 to Palestinian poet Mourid Al-Barghouti and Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour. That year, the Egyptian government had embarked on a peace process with Israel and expelled most Palestinians of prominence, including Al-Barghouti’s father. Since childhood, Al-Barghouti has been immersed in the political realities of the Arab world, the way they affect the most personal aspects of an individual’s life, as well as in the literary means to express them. He published his first poem at 18. In 1999, at age 22, he was able to return to Palestine for the first time, where he wrote his first poetry collection, “Mijana,” in the Palestinian spoken dialect of Arabic and published it in Ramallah. His second collection, “Al-Manzar,” followed shortly thereafter, written in Cairo using the Egyptian spoken dialect. 

In 2003, on the eve of the American invasion of Iraq, Al-Barghouti left Egypt in opposition to the war and the Egyptian government’s position. The experience resulted in two works that gained Al-Barghouti a degree of fame in Egypt and the Arab world; the first was “Aluli-Bet-hebb-Masr” (They Ask: Do You Love Egypt), written in the Egyptian spoken dialect, and “Maqam Iraq,” in Standard Classical Arabic. Both works were well received. “Maqam Iraq” in particular was described by one critic as “something of a classical Arabic masterpiece…a lengthy epic-like diwan on Iraq comprising a variety of stylistic forms: song, narrative, and prose...that established Al-Barghouti as a master of Arabic language and history.”

In 2007, Al-Barghouti’s work “In Jerusalem” became something of a street poem. Palestinian newspapers dubbed Al-Barghouti “The Poet of Jerusalem”. His posters hang on the streets of Jerusalem and other Palestinian cities, where keychains are sold with his picture on them. Sections of the poem have even become ring-tones blaring out from mobile phones across the Arab world, and children compete in memorizing and reciting it. The poem, which describes an aborted journey to the city, became the basis for a number of performances in Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem, Jericho, Amman, Beirut, Muscat, Berlin, The Hague, and Vienna, among others. "In Jerusalem" and other poems by Al-Barghouti have also had millions views of various TV Channels as well as on the internet, winning the poet an exceptional celebrity status in the Arab World.

On the 26th of January 2011, one day after the Egyptian Revolution that toppled President Hosny Mubarak, Al-Barghouti wrote the lyrical poem "Ya Masr Hanet"; its Arabic title roughly translates as "Oh Egypt, It's Close." With the internet down, he faxed the poem to a Cairo newspaper, copies of which were distributed in Tahrir Square.  Then Al-Jazeera TV Channel asked him to record it. The video of his reading was projected in the Square every couple of hours on makeshift screens, helping to fuel the protests in real time.

On the 27th, at the request of The Guardian, Al-Barghouti sent a commentary on the unfolding events in the Arab World which was published the next day in which he wrote: "I will venture to say that the Egyptian regime has already fallen: it might take some time, but the fear, the perception that the regime is invincible has gone once and for all. All this is followed quite closely in Palestine; any future intifada will not be directed only against the occupation, but also against any Palestinian entity that co-operates with the occupation. Tunisia sent out the message that client regimes fall – that if we can drive the empires out, we will surely be able to drive out their vassals."

Al-Barghouti has since been associated with political activism in Egypt and the Arab World as an opposition figure to the military regime that took over Egypt from February 2011 till June 2012, and then again  from July 2013.

Al-Barghouti studied politics at Cairo University, The American University in Cairo, and Boston University, where he received his Ph.D. in Political Science. He has written two volumes of history and political thought: Benign Nationalism: Nation State Building Under Occupation, the Case of Egypt, published in Arabic by the Egyptian National Library in 2008, and "the Umma and the Dawla: The Nation State and the Arab Middle East", published in London the same year. Al-Barghouti was a visiting professor of politics at Georgetown University in Washington DC from 2008 till 20011, and is Currently a Consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Committee for West Asia