This weekend, Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa has been at New York's Alwan for the Arts, reciting his own poems and those of other Arab poets. Among the poems he's reciting, I imagine, is his new work, "Now That We Have Tasted Hope." I wouldn't normally lift an author's entire work, but, since its initial appearance on BBC's The World Today, it seems to have been reposted on a number of websites. (Is that a good excuse?) Anyhow:
Tonight, my hopes are with Benghazi. I've been re-reading poems from award-winning Khaled Mattawa, who grew up in Benghazi.
You'll have to forgive John Donatich's hagiographic essay about the Syrian poet Adonis, which just appeared in The Front Table, since Donatich is---after all---the director of Yale University Press, and thus flogging Adonis's wonderful new book.
Yesterday in New York City, the group "United States Artists" announced their list of 50 fellows for 2010. Each fellow receives $50,000. Among them was poet/translator/professor Khaled Mattawa.
"First of all, I can’t write poetry in any other language. Impossible. I have to write in Arabic because each language has its own history and Arabic is my history. I consider Arabic to be the most beautiful language."
If you're looking for it, there are a number of places to seek out excellent Arab American poets. They are celebrated individually (Khaled Mattawa just won a major poetry award) and as a group, as in the most recent Banipal (38).
Although the news was released last week, I saw it just this morning, (thanks to Franklin Lewis). So: مبروك ya Khaled!