University of Arkansas Press Publishes Anthology of Arab American Poets
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — At no other time in American history has our imagination been so engrossed with the Arab experience. An indispensable and historic volume, Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poets, edited by Hayan Charra, and published by the University of Arkansas Press (paperback $24.95) gathers together poems, from the most important contemporary Arab American poets, that shape and alter our understanding of this experience. These poems also challenge us to reconsider what it means to be American.
Impressive in its scope, this book provides readers with an astonishing array of poetic sensibilities, touching on every aspect of the human condition. Whether about culture, politics, loss, art or language itself, the poems here engage these themes with originality, dignity and an unyielding need not only to speak, but also to be heard.
Here are 39 poets offering up 160 poems. Included in the anthology are Naomi Shihab Nye, Samuel Hazo, D.H. Melhem, Lawrence Joseph, Khaled Mattawa, Matthew Shenoda, Kazim Ali, Nuar Alsadir, Fady Joudah, Lisa Suhair Majaj, and the University of Arkansas’s Mohja Kahf. Charara has written a lengthy introduction about the state of Arab American poetry in the country today and short biographies of all the poets.
African American poet Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) says that the book “opens the door to a world breathing like our own, but adding dimensions that deepen our understanding of where we are and what time it is, that are immense, dreadful, and wonderful.” Award-winning Mark Doty, the first American poet to win the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize for poetry says this anthology “couldn’t be more timely; this book opens eyes, opens worlds.” And National Book Award winner Marilyn Hacker describes it as “one of the most fruitfully diverse anthologies I have read in years.”
Charara was a visiting professor of poetry writing at the University of Texas at Austin in 2005. Before that he taught in New York City. He is the author of two collections of poetry, The Sadness of Others and The Alchemist’s Diary. Born in Detroit, Mich., to immigrant parents, he currently lives in Houston, Texas. He is currently working with some of the poets to set up group readings in cities across the country.
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