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University of Iowa News Release


April 1, 2009

Hoffman reads April 13 from biography of Palestinian poet Taha Muhammed Ali

Adina Hoffman will read from "My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness," her new biography of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammed Ali, at 7 p.m. Monday, April 13, in the Prairie Lights bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The "Live from Prairie Lights" series event will be streamed live and then archived on the UI Writing University Web site,

A literary autodidact, Muhammed Ali (right) is a secular Muslim who runs a souvenir shop in Nazareth and has achieved recent international acclaim for his poetry. He read his poetry at the UI in 2003 as a guest of the International Writing Program.

Muhammed Ali was born in 1931 in the Galilee village of Saffuriyya and was forced to flee during the war in 1948. At the age of 17 he traveled on foot to Lebanon and returned a year later to find his village destroyed.

Taking up the pen, he has evolved into what National Book Critics Circle Award-winner Eliot Weinberger has dubbed "perhaps the most accessible and delightful poet alive today." His books of poetry in Arabic include "Fourth Qasida," "Fooling the Killers" and "Fire in the Convent Garden." Never Mind," his first collection in English, was published in 2000.

Hoffman's biography places Muhammad Ali's life in the context of the lives of his predecessors and peers. It is a work that Arabic scholar Michael Sells describes as "among the five 'must read' books on the Israel-Palestine tragedy."

Former University of Iowa Writers' Workshop faculty member Gerald Stern said, "From Adina Hoffman's extraordinary book, I have not only learned about the life of that wise, sweet, cunning, superbly gifted and totally original Palestinian poet, Taha Muhammad Ali, but I have learned -- more than ever before -- about Jewish and Arab history in Palestine. The book is heartbreaking, riveting and beautifully written. Moreover it's one of a kind, courageous and deeply honest."

Hoffman is the author of "House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood" and her essays and criticism have appeared in the Nation, the Washington Post and the Times Literary Supplement, and on the BBC. She is one of the founders and editors of Ibis Editions in Jerusalem.

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

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