Khaled Mattawa Zodiac of Echoes

ISBN 13: 9781931337168

Zodiac of Echoes

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9781931337168: Zodiac of Echoes

Jahan Ramazani has written that “These dazzling lyrics and sequences create one of the most compelling portraits we have of a mind, a sensibility, a language emerging from the hybridization of cultures.”

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From the Author:

Reflections on Exile:

"People now are aware of how difficult it is for people of Arab descent to live in this country but it was never easy, you know. And I went to high school here, which was not an easy experience, in Louisiana."


"This issue of a historical grievance, the anger, and a desire to preserve something which was about to be lost is what I had brought with me here. Even though I was writing in English, my sensibility is a different vision of the world."


"When you begin a poem you really do begin with a point of helplessness, or a point of isolation. The poem becomes a reaching out to break the isolation. I really am still a poet of exile. And my book tried to deal with those issues as well--explain what baggage I brought with me here."


"I think even the most sophisticated liberal audiences in America have in their minds a heavily ingrained notion of the immigrant rags-to-riches kind of story. . . . I don't really tell the story of the happy immigrant. I would like to challenge the audience as to their privilege and mine. Also I don't present the picture of a beautiful homeland that was lost to me. I don't have that nostalgia for home. I missed my family, I didn't miss a great nation whose people were all sweet. If someone wants to get a picture of what Libya is like from my book, it's a human place, a place that has generosity and kindness and women who are oppressed and children who were abused."


On Translation:

"Translation is something I encounter on a daily basis. As soon as I say my name I've put myself outside the border; I have to crawl back into the center. When a stranger asks me my name--and they ask maybe four or five times--every time they ask they're telling me "I don't know this name." Then I have to find a way to translate or legitimate the existence of my name in this world. That is where translation becomes almost a kind of existential state."


"The idea is to create poems in translation that widen the expanse of the language. . . . So, I really try to make the strange or unfamiliar beautiful. I would pursue the literal until I exhaust it and see if my pursuit of the strange utterance can render something that is interesting and surprising."

About the Author:

Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, and immigrated to the U.S. in his teens, where he became an American citizen in 1997. He lived in the deep South for many years, and earned his undergraduate degree in political science and economics at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Mattawa received an MA in creative writing from Indiana University. His work has won many prizes, including the Alfred Hodder Fellowship (Princeton University), a Guggenheim fellowship, and an NEA translation grant. He is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

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