Khaled Mattawa

Amorisco is a book of shifting sands and apple-scented smoke, a book of surfaces whose solidity erodes or fractures or flowers unexpectedly, a book of history and secrets and secret histories, a book of supplication and vision which returns the lyric to its ancient roots in song and prayer. It is most of all a book about love and loss, which makes sense, for Khaled Mattawa is, as he tells us, a poet ‘strangely in love with the world, ripe to be in love.’ There is, of course, erotic love—’we’re naked now like arrows in flight, lustful / for the lover and the grape stains on her cheeks’—but the complex ambiguities of familial love are his central concern, in poems about parents, children, partnership and separation. Mattawa is also a poet of cultural witness, tracking the self and society in their coercive conversation, attending to both ‘the sound of my footsteps /and the world’s roar.’ In this volume, his native North Africa is the world evoked most richly, from the Roman past of Augustine and Marcus Aurelius, to the politically fraught present day. So it is no surprise that Amorisco is also a book of mint tea and wild artichokes, legendary dulcimer players and desperate immigrants. No surprise, perhaps, but still a delight for mind and ear. I wish more of our poetry had this depth of humanistic engagement. I wish more poets would risk the commitment to compassion as not just an imaginative but a political act that Khaled Mattawa does, when he asks, ‘What else can I do but love what casts a shadow?'” —Campbell McGrath

ISBN: 9781931337441

Format: Paperback

About the Author

Khaled Mattawa currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan. He is the author of four books of poetry, the latest of which, Tocqueville, won the San Francisco Poetry Center’s Book Award. Mattawa has translated eleven volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry, including Adonis: Selected Poems and Concerto Al-Quds. His book Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet’s Art and His Nation was a finalist for the Pegasus Prize. A MacArthur fellow, Mattawa’s awards include an Academy of American …

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“There is much of love in this slim volume—and much also of longing and of the soreness of the journey.” —Kingdom Books Blog

“This is Khaled Mattawa’s call in Amorisco, to ‘see the elements,’ to accept their mutability, to hope and to keep reaching for a truth that eludes, and above all to love and praise, despite the flaws.” —World Literature Today