In Fugitive/Refuge, Philip Metres follows the journey of his refugee ancestors—from Lebanon to Mexico to the United States—in a vivid exploration of what it means to long for home. A book-length qasida, the collection draws on ancient poetic traditions and invents new forms—odes and arabics, sonnets and close-ups, prayers and documentary voicings, heroic couplets and homophonic translations—to confront the perils of our age: forced migration, climate change, and toxic nationalism.
Fugitive/Refuge pronounces the urge both to remember the past and to forge new ways of being in language. In one section, Metres meditates on the Arabic greeting “ahlan wa sahlan,” framing these older forms of welcome as generous, embodied ways to respond to the digital alienation and mass migration of postmodern societies. In another section, he dialogues with Dante to inform new ways of understanding ancestral and modern migrations and the injustices that have burdened them. Ultimately, Metres uses movement to create a new place—one to home and dream in—for all those who seek shelter.