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Nathalie Handal

Nathalie Handal was born in Haiti and raised in Latin America, France, and the Arab world. She received an MFA from Bennington College and an MPhil in drama and English from the University of London.

She is the author of several books of poetry, including Life in a Country Album, forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press in 2019; The Republics (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015), which received a 2016 Arab American Book Award; Poet in Andalucia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012); and Love and Strange Horses (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), which received a Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award.

About her work, Yusef Komunyakaa writes, “This cosmopolitan voice belongs to the human family, and it luxuriates in crossing necessary borders.”

Handal is the editor of The Poetry of Arab Women (Interlink Books, 2001) and, with Tina Chang, the coeditor of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond (W. W. Norton, 2008). Also a playwright, she is the author of plays produced at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Westminter Abbey, and elsewhere.

Handal has received the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, a Lannan Foundation fellowship, and a Centro Andaluz de las Letras fellowship, among other honors and awards. She lectures internationally and currently teaches at Columbia University and in the low-residency MFA at Sierra Nevada College. She lives in New York City and Paris, France.


Bibliography

Life in a Country Album ​(University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019)
The Republics (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015)
Poet in Andalucia (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012)
Love and Strange Horses (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010)
The Lives of Rain (Interlink Books, 2005)
The Neverfield (Interlink Books, 2005)

By This Poet

5

White Trees

When the white trees are no longer in sight
they are telling us something,
like the body that undresses
when someone is around,
like the woman who wants
to read what her nude curves
are trying to say,
of what it was to be together,
lips on lips
but it's over now, the town
we once loved in, the maps
we once drew, the echoes that
once passed through us
as if they needed something we had.

Granada Sings Whitman

By the river Genil
lovers sing what belongs to the water,
a shoemaker sings the dream he had,
his helper the dream he didn't,
a man sings to the woman
on the broken mattress,
death at midday sings,
on the banks of the Darro
a blind thief
collecting golden poplars sings,
and so does the crevice of quivers,
the saints flaming in la Sierra
and the men rehearsing a country.
They know nothing stays,
but when Whitman sings—
they allow his voice
to take them apart.

Holy Cosmos

We’ve been told space
is like two dark lips colliding

like science fiction
it outlines a small cosmos

where fear hides in a glow
where negative space

becomes a place for wishing
a constellation of hazy tunes

of faint sharp vowels
a glossary of meteors

a telescope to god
a cold bright white

maybe distance damages us
maybe Jupiter

will suddenly surprise us
with a notion of holiness

but instead an old planet
takes over all the space

and we are reminded
of the traces of fire

in our gaze
defining our infidelities