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Form, fragment, refiguring return: Memory and abstraction in three Palestinian poems

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posted on 2023-10-31, 15:42 authored by Brigid Quirke

Memory-as-reclamation has been a cornerstone in Palestinian cultural production since the Nakba began in 1948. But 75 years on, generational and temporal remove complicates the relationship between memory, place and resistance. In the words of Penny Johnson, memory- as-reclamation is now “a vexed project” for writers in the diaspora. This thesis reads three poems by writers of Palestinian descent and considers how they each think about questions of memory and abstraction. The scope of these ideas is kept open. This reading examines content, craft and the way each poem interacts with other writing, both within and outside of each poet’s oeuvre. Taking Noor Hindi’s “Fuck Your Lecture on Craft, My People Are Dying”, George Abraham’s “Alternate Mythologies of Rage & Exile, in Fragments”, and Zaina Alsous’ “The Workers Love Palestine” as its key texts, this thesis draws attention to each poem’s concern with form. For these poets and poems, Palestine operates as a site of political-aesthetic tension. This thesis interrogates how each poem considers and rejects identity as a reductive tool for categorisation, and magnifies each writer’s thinking about the contribution and limitations of aesthetics and poetics to a project of Palestinian liberation.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

English Literature

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Arts

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

280116 Expanding knowledge in language, communication and culture; 280113 Expanding knowledge in history, heritage and archaeology; 280122 Expanding knowledge in creative arts and writing studies

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

1 Pure basic research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of English, Film, Theatre, Media Studies and Art History


McNeill, Dougal