Ghassan Zaqtan’s Absence in Albany Today

—> Just learned that today’s event has been cancelled! <—

For anybody in Albany or surrounds, please go to the events at the New York State Writers Institute at SUNY Albany that should have featured Palestinain poet Ghassan Zaqtan (who cannot be there as the US State Department has refused to give him a visa) but that will feature his translator, Fady Joudah, today Tuesday, 10 April:

4:15 p.m. Seminar | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus
8:00 p.m. Reading | Standish Room, Science Library, Uptown Campus

Fady Joudah will speak to Zaqtan’s poetry & no doubt to the disturbing fact of the poet’s absence, & read from Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, Zaqtan’s  latest volume of new & selected poems, recently published by Yale University Press. My blurb for the book says this: “The poet’s trade is exile, & a Palestinian poet’s trade thus a double exile: Ghassan Zaqtan’s work is exemplary in that its lyrical intensity simultaneously hides & foregrounds this quest’s epic dimensions.” Below,  one poem from the book:


Her effigy is by the edge of sleep

and besides this my only trick is that the land
be seen or returned to its people
and that I shall think like a falcon . . .
or have I been saying this for twenty years,
give or take, and here I am still
in the place still running
free and mortgaged by presence!

Just as al-Buhturi chose to imprison the wolf within his driving rhythm

‘‘He squatted and howled so I composed and agitated
’til he came a lightning followed by thunder’’

To the light of two wolves
I doze off

then the garden
howls behind the glass

the fence howls

and the birds howl.

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1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    Nice. Ghassan Zaqtan’s poetry certainly sings or should I say howls. One can’t help but wonder if there would be more picketing and protest over this refusal in Washington were another government in place. As politics becomes more and more divisive this one can’t help but wonder if we now choose our sides based on our political persuasion rather than our principles. Maybe governments do too. Or maybe they have their reasons, who knows? “Rembring” needs another “e.” There’s my protest!

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