In a poet’s life, every fact can redeem a fictitious aspect, and anything can become a metaphor, a commentary. Mosab Abu Toha, is an incredible poet who enjoys a heightened sense of language that allows for his bittersweet poetry about Palestine a second nothing emotional kick that will leave any reader touched and mesmerized. His poetry collection Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won a Derek Walcott Poetry Prize and an American Book Award.
On October 20, in an article by Abu Toha published in The New Yorker, The View From My Window In Gaza, the now kidnapped poet wrote “One idea in particular haunts me, and I cannot push it away,” he wrote. “Will I, too, become a statistic on the news?”
Bombardments were unbearable in North Gaza where Abu Toha and his family took temporary refuge in Jabalia camp. They received evacuation orders and set off their migration journey to the south where the Rafah border with Egypt, and hoped to get his three-year-old American son out of Gaza. Toha’s brother wrote on Twitter on Monday that the Israeli military kidnapped the poet at a checkpoint while fleeing.
أنا شقيق مصعب، الجيش أخذ مصعب عندما وصل الحاجز مغادرًا من الشمال إلى الجنوب الذي أمر الجيش بالانتقال إليه، زورجته وأولاده دخلوا الجنوب وقام الجيش باعتقال أخي مصعب، ولا ندري عنه شيئًا، مع العلم أن السفارة الأمريكية أرسلت له ولعائلته للسفر عبر معبر رفح، لو أحد من أصدقاء مصعب… pic.twitter.com/a0sDxw6tlo
— حمزة مصطفى أبو توهة (@HamzaAbuToha) November 20, 2023
The Egyptian essayist and writer Abdelrahman Al Gendy posted on his Instagram account saying:
“I carry immense rage after learning of the kidnapping of Palestinian Poet Mosab Abu Toha by the IDF…I carry immense rage that we have to stress how US-adjacent he was as a person and a poet, to humanize him and raise the value of his life in the eyes of power, namely, the US government.” Additionally, the New Yorker editor Michael Luo said on X, formerly Twitter, that they lost contact with Abu Toha.
David Remnick sent a note to staff this morning abt the worrisome news on Mosab Abu Toa, the Palestinian poet and essayist from Gaza, whose work we have been publishing. We had lost touch w/ him and learned he was arrested in central Gaza. Here’s a thread of his @newyorker work.
— Michael Luo (@michaelluo) November 20, 2023
Abu Toha had recently published in major American outlets like The Atlantic and The New Yorker. In another article published by New Yorker titled The Agony of Waiting For a Ceasefire That Never Comes Abu Toha wrote “Now I sit in my temporary house in the Jabalia camp, waiting for a ceasefire. I feel like I am in a cage. I’m being killed every day with my people. The only two things I can do are panic and breathe. There is no hope here.”
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