Category Archives: Middle East

Adrienne Rich’s ghazals

February 27, 2014 Her earliest ghazals are in Leaflets, at the very end of the volume, which I must have looked at.   But I’m reading them seriously only now — because of Agha Shahid Ali and Call Me Ishmael Tonight, … Continue reading

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Frank Stella, Agha Shahid Ali: Moby-Dick into ghazals

Feb 20, 2014 Stella’s “Fedallah” isn’t anything like Melville’s: not the “tiger-yellow” apparition “with one white tooth evilly protruding from its steel-like lips,” but a fluid, dancing figure, with some dark streaks and shadows, it’s true, but otherwise resplendent, impressive. … Continue reading

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Turkish Munich

July 3, 2013 Last time I came by train.   What struck me immediately, getting out of the station, was the city’s Turkish population, out in force, women wearing head scarves and not looking conspicuous, walking comfortably up and down … Continue reading

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Adrienne Rich, June Jordan: bracketing war

March 27,  2013 Adrienne Rich wrote the intro to the collected poems, June Jordan’s, talking mostly about meter, sound patterns, vernacular riffs. Of “March Song,” she writes: “Here she breaks what is actually a dactylic metrical line so that the … Continue reading

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Ntozake Shange, Alice B. Toklas: What Cooks Know

January 23, 2013 “The first effable gazpacho was served to us in Malaga,”  Alice notes.   She and Gertrude Stein would also find “entirely different but equally exquisite” versions of the that soup in Seville and Cordoba, cities once under Islamic … Continue reading

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Olaudah Equiano, Dave Brubeck: à la Turk

December 5, 2012 Equiano liked Turkey.  He had gone there from Italy in 1769, and greatly admired the grapes and pomegranates in the ancient city of Smyrna, “the richest and largest I ever tasted.”  He also liked the fact that … Continue reading

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Ishmael Reed, Grateful Dead: Egypt

November 28, 2012 Ishmael Reed gets away with it. He is “a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra,” he says in the poem of that title.  And he gets to do thisbecause Sonny Rollins has already set an example: Sonny … Continue reading

Posted in Africa, Arts communities, collaboration, contemporary poetry, Egypt, Global South, jazz, Middle East, Music, peripheral networks, Rock music, Twentieth century literature, Vernacular dialects, World religions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Unending Katrina: Dave Eggers’ Zeitoun

October 31, 2012 I never made it to the World Humanities Forum, a small story in a big storm. New Orleans and New York: this is the tale of two cities that is now unfolding.   I wish I could say: … Continue reading

Posted in Cities, Climate change, Contemporary novel, Environmentalism, Ethnicity, Genre, Islam, Media, Middle East, oceans, World religions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Atlantic Sound: Caryl Phillips, Thomas Pynchon, Richard and Mimi Fariña

August 22, 2012 At the end of  The Atlantic Sound, Caryl Phillips is in Israel, visiting a community of Black Hebrews, almost 2000 of them, African-Americans who emigrated from the United States. They have given up their U.S. citizenship, but … Continue reading

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Gore Vidal (1925-2012): 2006 Letter on the Palestinian nation.

August 1, 2012 Gore Vidal’s passing is marked worldwide by a citational frenzy: all those quips, those acidic one-liners, from the past 86 years.  The New York Times, the Washington Post, the LA Times, all have their favorites; the Guardian … Continue reading

Posted in African-American literature, Afro-Asian alliances, Arabic, collaboration, Comparative literature, Ethnicity, globe, Islam, Letters, Middle East, Newspapers, Nobel Prize, peripheral networks, print medium, Racial violence, Twentieth century literature, World religions | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments