Fadwa Toukan, the Palestinian poet who chronicled the suffering of her people under Israeli occupation, died on Dec. 12. Cause of death was not released. She was 86.
Born in Nablus to a wealthy Palestinian family, Toukan’s eldest brother forced her to quit school in the fifth grade after a rumor spread that she’d received a flower from a young admirer. Although she lacked a formal education, another one of her brothers, poet Ibrahim Toukan, gave her books to read.
Toukan eventually published eight poetry collections, which were translated into English and Farsi. Although her book, ”Alone With the Days,” focused on the hardships faced by women in the male-dominated Arab world, Toukan eventually attended Oxford University, where she studied English and literature.
After Israel invaded the West Bank and Gaza in the 1967 Middle East War, Toukan’s poetry focused on the hardships of occupation. One of her best known poems, “The Night and the Horsemen,” described life under Israeli military rule. Toukan was also one of Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat’s favorite writers.