Tamim al-Barghouti was born in Cairo to an Egyptian mother, Radwa Ashour, and the Palestinian journalist and poet Mourid al-Barghouti, born in Deir Ghassanah near Ramallah on the West Bank. Tamim’s father was expelled from Egypt four months after his son’s birth, and not allowed to return until 1995. For eighteen years the father saw his son only during three-week winter and summer vacations in Budapest, where he was living in exile.
Here Tamim learnt to speak Hungarian. To his education in Cairo he owes an excellent command of English and a knowledge of French and Italian.
He obtained a B.A. in Political Science at Cairo University in 1999, and specialized in International Relations at Cairo’s American University, from which he graduated in 2001.
Music has always been a part of Tamim’s life. The toy lute he received on his third birthday soon made way for a real one which he learned to play. In 1996 and 1997 he won the music prize of his faculty at Cairo University, the faculty which awarded him its poetry prize in 1998. That same year he won the poetry medal of the High Institute of Applied Arts. In 2000 he received the poetry prize of the Regional Cultural Foundation in Marrakesh, Morocco.
Tamim al-Barghouti’s poems have appeared in periodicals in Egypt, Jordan and the Palestinian territories. His first collection, Mijana, appeared in Ramallah in 1999. He has presented his poetry at Cairo University, the American University in Cairo, the Cairo Hanagerr Theatre, the Amman Poetry House in Jordan, and in the Barghouti’s native village of Deir Ghassanah. One imagines him there in the village square, addressing the assembled villagers like his father Mourid used to. Mourid al-Barghouti describes the scene in his book I Saw Ramallah, which appeared in English translation in 2000.
[Tamim al-Barghouti took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2001. This text was written on that occasion.]