Palestinian poet Samih al-Qassim Amman - Osama al-Rantissi Despite struggling against cancer, the acclaimed Palestinian poet Samih al-Qassim said that even this most serious of diseases is not as painful to him as the true disease he and his people are suffering from, namely the Israeli occupation of their homeland. Honoured by Jordan's Ministry of Culture on Sunday, Samih addressed his fans in the Jordanian capital Amman, hailing the close ties he has with the country, especially the province of Zarka, where he was born. He also reassured them about his health, saying "I'm well and I will overcome this illness." His many fans were then treated to him reading several of his poems, with those in which he expressed his home sickness and the suffering caused by his expatriation striking particular resonance. The ceremony in his honour marked the Ministry's celebration of publishing his book "Hermaphroditus and Other Poems," as part of the 2012 edition of the "Reading for All" festival held annually in the country. "Samih al-Qassim represents the cultural core of his nation's resistance and revolution against occupation. His words give continuing momentum to the Palestinian people's quest for freedom and independence," said the Jordanian Minister of Culture, Salah Jarrar, in a speech he delivered during the ceremony. "This is the true message that people like Qassim are bringing to our lives, a message of beauty which gives a real meaning to our existence and makes the human civilisation immortal," he added. Assaad Abdelrahman, executive director of the Palestine International Association and friend of Qassim’s for over 30 years, also addressed the attendees, praising his friend’s towering achievements as one of the most prominent Arab poets in the modern era. "Actually I'm not so sure if we are honouring Samih with this ceremony or if he is the one who has honoured us with his presence, despite the pain he is suffering," he said. At the end of the ceremony a Palestinian orchestra, led by the maestro Kamal Suleiman, played some songs based on Qassim's poems, including "I Write Your Name, My Homeland."