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English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing




Louis Cabri

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.


Umbilical Discord is a collection of poetry that incorporates English translations of testimonies by elder Palestinian women who have witnessed and survived the ongoing Nakba (“Catastrophe” in Arabic) of 1948. Excerpts of these accounts, retrieved from the Zochrot website, visually interlace with the voice of a narrator living in the Palestinian diaspora. The form in Umbilical Discord establishes a constant tension, where the left-justified narrator voice and the indented testimony excerpts are always in relation to each other, and the shifts enact dynamics of distance and proximity, of individual experience and collective trauma. This form allows for multiple layers of narrative to emerge, where each column of text may be read separately (from top to bottom) or together (from left to right). The narrator, whose grandparents fled from Safad, Palestine to Damascus, Syria in 1948, was born in Yarmouk Camp in Damascus and has been living in Canada for most of her life. Disconnected from Palestine, the narrator explores her own diasporic Palestinian identity through interrogating, reacting to, and juxtaposing her own experiences (or those of her family members) with the testimony excerpts. Thus, the poems express Marianne Hirsch’s notion of “postmemory” where traumatic experiences pass down generationally, deeply affecting later generations that have not experienced the traumatic events first-hand. A collection of fragmentary, interweaving stories, Umbilical Discord is an example of what may come out of the tensions between the collective, national Palestinian framework and subjective, individual experience, where fragmentation is a source of pain but also a means of creating a network of solidarity in decolonial efforts.

Available for download on Saturday, May 31, 2025