"On the bridges to those slippery worlds, we are wrapped in gold foil, disease free. Who is saving whom? The question's not stated, only implied." In 2013, the Italian government implemented Mare Nostrum, an operation intended to limit immigration from Africa and the Middle East to European countries. For the refugees, the journeys were harrowing, often ending in shipwrecks or imprisonment, and the arrivals were wracked with uncertainty. Here, acclaimed poet Khaled Mattawa conjures a pointed, incantatory account of the refugee experience during Operation Mare Nostrum. The voices are many, and the lyrics ritualistic, as if Mattawa has stirred ghosts from the wreckage. Part narrative, part blessing, this chapbook begs of its readers: Do you remember? Mattawa's writing is a lighthouse for politics of the twenty-first century, and this chapbook a stunning memorial.
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, and a critical study of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. Mattawa has coedited two anthologies of Arab American literature and translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry. His awards include the Academy of American Poets Fellowship prize, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and a MacArthur Fellowship.