Palestinian poet Ahmad Almallah will read from his first collection, Bitter English (Phoenix Poets, 2020) and his new collection Border Wisdom. He will then join the conversation with the Iranian poet and EUME Fellow Fatemeh Shams to reflect on themes of language, exile, and strangeness.
About Bitter English: Imagine you are a Palestinian who came to America as a young man, eventually finding yourself caught between the country you live in with your wife and daughter, and the home—and parents—you left behind. Imagine living every day in your nonnative language and becoming estranged from your native tongue, which you use less and less as you become more ensconced in the United States. This is the story told by Ahmad Almallah in Bitter English, an autobiography-in-verse that explores the central role language plays in how we construct our identities and how our cultures construct them for us.
Ahmad Almallah is a poet from Palestine. His first book of poems Bitter English is now available in the Phoenix Poets Series from the University of Chicago Press. He received the Edith Goldberg Paulson Memorial Prize for Creative Writing, and his set of poems “Recourse,” won the Blanche Colton Williams Fellowship. Some of his poems and other writing appeared in Jacket2, Track//Four, All Roads will lead You Home, Apiary, Supplement, SAND, Michigan Quarterly Review, Making Mirrors: Righting/Writing by Refugees, Cordite Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Great River Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry and American Poetry Review. He holds a Ph.D. in Arabic Literature from IUB and an MFA in poetry from Hunter College. He is currently an Artist in Residence in Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania.
Fatemeh Shams is the author of two books of poetry in Persian, the first of which won the Jaleh Esfahani Award for the best young Iranian poet in 2012, and a critical monograph in English on poetry and politics, A Revolution in Rhyme (Oxford University Press, 2022). When They Broke Down the Door (Mage), a collection of her poems translated by Dick Davis, won the 2017 Latifeh Yarshater Award from the Association for Iranian Studies. Her poetry has been featured in the Poetry Foundation Website, PBS NewsHour, World Literature Today, Michigan Quarterly Review, London Poetry Magazine, and the Penguin Book of Feminist Writing, among other venues. She is currently assistant professor of Modern Persian Literature at the University of Pennsylvania.
The event is organized by Khan Aljanub Bookstore.