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Khaled Mattawa

Khaled Mattawa

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya in 1964 and immigrated to the U.S. in his teens. He is the author of three previous books of poetry, Ismailia Eclipse (Sheep Meadow, 1995), Zodiac of Echoes (Ausable, 2003), and Amorisco (Ausable, 2008). Mattawa has translated eight volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry and co-edited two anthologies of Arab American literature. He has received a Guggenheim fellowship, an NEA translation grant, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University, the PEN American Center Poetry Translation Prize, and three Pushcart Prizes. Mattawa teaches in the MFA (Creative Writing) Program at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Also by Khaled Mattawa

 

Tocqueville

TocquevilleTocqueville

$15.00 paper | 71 Pages
ISBN: 978-1-930974-90-6
Publication Date: April 5, 2010
Buy: Amazon.com | spdbooks.org

The Green Rose Series

"In his masterful fourth collection, Khaled Mattawa is concerned, above all, with the ramifications of a new global culture that most American poets have thus far ignored and neglected, partly out of incomprehension, partly out of fear. By setting himself against such timidity, Mattawa offers his most sustained and experimental reckoning with matters of cultural and social witness. Tocqueville is part personal lyric, part jeremiad, part shooting script, and part troubled homage to the great wry chronicler of American society evoked in the book’s title. It is a book of relentless invention that is also relentlessly urgent—and that is a very rare thing indeed. Khaled Mattawa is, quite simply, one of the finest, fiercest, and most original poets of his generation."
        —David Wojahn

"Khaled Mattawa’s Tocqueville is novelistic in its reach and depth. Of course, from the onset, the title insinuates audacity and scrutiny of history. The poet uses a nuts-and-bolts language to render an earthy sonority that unfolds through a collage of lyrical inferences, a film noir of images. Tocqueville is a tour de force. The book’s experimental rhythm and movement is surprising, but one feels that it isn’t experimental for the sake of mere difference or style. In fact, the collection’s clarity is almost spiritual. Tocqueville names the names, walks the walk, and definitely talks the talk. Here’s a book of marvelous poems for our times; its textured complexity radiates and sings."
        —Yusef Komunyakaa

"Poetry in English has been enriched by a small number of brilliant language turncoats, born to other mother tongues who adopted and were adopted by ours: Charles Simic, Olga Broumas, George Szirtes, are among them. Khaled Mattawa, a poet still young has, for a dozen years, been leading the parallel lives of translator of modern poetry from his first language, Arabic, and of a more and more incisive, lyrical, pertinent and innovative poet in English. Tocqueville, living up to the truthful irony implicit in its title, is politically astute, formally daring, grips the reader with an intelligence that spotlights, too, its sensual and emotional (and historical) accuracy."
        —Marilyn Hacker

"Tocqueville is part magnanimous lyric — singing out in Whitmanesque compassion. But Tocqueville is also part nightmarish film script continuously rewriting itself . . . and we are both mesmerized and torn asunder by the prophetic afterimages."
        —Marilyn Chin

"Khaled Mattawa continues to write a global poetry . . . his voice clearly evolved into one of daring necessity that does not demand national identity."
        —Bloomsbury Review

"Mattawa's Tocqueville is not a mere revision of that historical document, but poetry based on motion, where narrative doesn't contrust a story — it is more a screenplay that metamorphoses into a democratic account, a lyric slide show that disrupts conventional time into 'the befores that follow the first before.'"
        —Fady Joudah, Ploughshares

Poem

Ecclesiastes

The trick is that you're willing to help them.
The rule is to sound like you’re doing them a favor.

The rule is to create a commission system.
The trick is to get their number.

The trick is to make it personal:
No one in the world suffers like you.

The trick is that you’re providing a service.
The rule is to keep the conversation going.

The rule is their parents were foolish,
their children are greedy or insane.

The rule is to make them feel they've come too late.
The trick is that you're willing to make exceptions.

The rule is to assume their parents abused them.
The trick is to sound like the one teacher they loved.

And when they say "too much,"
give them a plan.

And when they say "anger" or "rage" or "love,"
say "give me an example."

The rule is everyone is a gypsy now.
Everyone is searching for his tribe.

The rule is you don't care if they ever find it.
The trick is that they feel they can.