Palestinian Poet Ghassan Zaqtan Waiting…and Waiting…on Visa for US Book Tour

The PEN American Center announced yesterday that they’re pressing for a US visa for Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan.

Zaqtan’s collection Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (trans. Fady Joudah) is being released by Yale University Press this month, and  Zaqtan’s book tour was supposed to kick off April 3 in California. But Zaqtan is still waiting on a visa.

PEN said, in a news release:

Worried that the United States might been delaying visa processing for political reasons, PEN joined with the ACLU, our partners in challenging a number of post-9/11 instances of ideological exclusion, to send a letter to U.S. State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh asking for urgent action on Zaqtan’s visa application.

You can contact the US State Department’s Harold Koh, Legal Advisor to the Secretary of State, at: U.S. Department of State / 2201 C Street, N.W. / Washington, DC 20520, or by email:

The ACLU news release

is online. They note: “Mr. Zaqtan applied for a visa on March 7, 2012 at the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem and was told at the time that he would receive his visa within two weeks. Four weeks later, Mr. Zaqtan has yet to receive a response.”

Some of the scheduled events:

San Francisco Poetry Center April 5 (I imagine this isn’t happening)

University of Albany on April 10

Georgetown on April 12

Poetry by Zaqtan:

Eight poems trans. Fady Joudah, on Narrative

“Neighboring Sounds,” trans. Fady Joudah, Poetry Society

Black Horses, trans. May Jayyusi and Alan Brownjohn

Six poems, trans. Sarah Maguire and Kate Daniels

Fady Joudah on Translating Zaqtan:

In the Beloit Poetry Journal

Tweets about Zaqtan:

@muiz : Had the honour of meeting Ghassan Zaqtan – he’s the quintessential personification of a poet; quiet, thoughtful, smoker with a gravely voice

@muiz: #US delay Palestinian poet, Ghassan Zaqtan’s visa for a 2-week book tour. @PENamerican releases statement of support

‏ @ronslate: Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan needs help to get visa for U.S. tour. Book now out via @yalepress. How to support him: