Content Tagged ‘3arabi Song’

House Guest: Zeina Hashem Beck

Zeina Hashem Beck’s poems, “The Woman in Our House,” “Asmahan,” and “Listen” appear in Ecotone 21. In the piece below, Zeina tells us about the process of writing 3arabi Song, using a glossary of some of the Arabic words in the chapbook.

3arabiCovWriting 3arabi Song: A Glossary of Arabic Terms

Tarab: a kind of Arabic music. The word is also used to describe the emotional effect of this music on the listener, who is almost in a state of trance.

Tarab: When Mom began an Umm Kulthum song in the kitchen, Dad replied from the corridor. When my parents’ friends came over, everyone sang. The only video footage my parents have of me as a toddler is me singing in the middle of a living room, surrounded by clapping adults. This was Lebanon in the ’80s, during the civil war. Every day at lunch or dinner, Dad made the same joke about a line from a famous Abdel Halim song – a line about how time was coming to heal us.

Ya’aburnee: literally means “you bury me.” A term of endearment, often used by Arab mothers, expressing their desire to die before their children, rather than live without them. Can’t be translated in one word.

Ya’aburnee: Three summers ago, my cousin was shot dead on the street in Tripoli, Lebanon. My aunt sat in her living room, crying and singing about her asmar, her dark-skinned boy. That same summer, two Tripoli mosques were bombed. I don’t know how many people have buried loved ones in Syria, in Iraq, in Palestine. How to write the untranslatable?

3arabi: the Arabizi way of writing “Arabic.” Arabizi” comes from the combination of “Arabic” and “Englizi” (English); it uses numbers to represent sounds that are specifically Arabic, and has become well-known among Arabic speakers (especially online and in texting).

3arabi: One of the books we had in our house in Tripoli was a big, blue, French-Arabic/Arabic-French dictionary. It’s one of the earliest books I remember going through; I liked its thick cover, its smell, its thin pages, its weight. Looking back now, I find it interesting that, like me, it was bilingual. Like many Lebanese, I attended a French school then an American University. I feel I live in many languages, and so does 3arabi Song. But living in many languages means using the language of the colonizer, the Empire – do I forgive myself? And how do I break English to create a space for my 3arabi self inside it?

Ra7eel: departure | 3awda: returning

Ra7eel | 3awda: In one of the first stories I wrote as a little girl, I gave my character a very Western name: Grace. I remember struggling to come up with it because, in my little girl’s mind, I probably thought, Who names their characters Zeina or Ahmad? Who sets a story in Tripoli? One thing 3arabi Song says is, Oh for God’s sake, who the hell is Grace?

Bahr: the sea. Also means “meter” in Arabic poetry.

Bahr: The sea isn’t always merciful. Refugees keep drowning in the Mediterranean. And poetry seems simultaneously useles and powerful. But language is what I do, so I do it.

Habibi: my love.

Habibi: I lose count of how many times a day I use the word habibi. I lose count of Allah too.

Allahu Akbar: God is greater.

Allahu Akbar: These words didn’t use to invoke fear, or beheadings. When I visited the US for the first time last year, I wanted to read the poem “Adhan,” which contains the words Allahu Akbar. My husband worried some people in the audience might not get it, might be scared. He also worried some people in the Arab world might be offended. This is what happens when you live in the liminal. I read the poem.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet. Her first collection, To Live in Autumn, won the 2013 Backwaters Prize. Her second collection, Louder than Hearts, has won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in April 2017. She’s also the author of two chapbooks: 3arabi Song, winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and There Was and How Much There Was, a 2016 smith|doorstop Laureate’s Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Forward Prize, and has appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and The Rialto, among others. She lives in Dubai, where she has founded and runs PUNCH, a poetry and open mic collective. Zeina’s readings often have a strong performative quality, and she has participated in literary festivals in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

News Roundup (Let’s Go Back to the Future)

Hi, folks! It’s been a little while since we’ve posted a News Roundup. We were busy, we confess, enjoying the last days of summer before school started up again. But now we’re back in the thick of it, and since we have some catching up to do, we’re christening this post the Back to the Future Roundup. With the aid of a literary-minded DeLorean, we’re going to time travel through various points of recent interest.

We+Show+What+We+Have+Learned+coverLet’s begin with Clare Beams, the author of Lookout’s forthcoming story collection, We Show What We Have Learned. One of the stories was featured on Kenyon Review Online, so you can get yourself a taste before October 25 when the book comes out. The whole collection is great, of course, but don’t take our word for it! It was featured on LitHub’s “Great Booksellers Fall 2016 Preview” this very week! And Steph Opitz, the book review editor for Marie Claire, talked it up on a recent episode of The Lit Up Show. “In every story, it feels like something is lurking right around you, but you never really get to it…. It’s creepy and the writing is so beautiful … you feel angry and obsessed and intrigued … I just absolutely loved it.” We suggest listening to the the full podcast, since all the recommended books sound incredible.

Now let’s go way back to June, and knowing that a trip so far back can be traumatic, Nullcover3Dwebsitewe present this fascinating interview with Ecotone contributor Adrienne Celt with writer Esmé Weijun Wang on “The Inheritance of Trauma.” Adrienne says, “Because my paternal grandparents lived in Munich (after WWII, Poland was occupied by the USSR, so many loyal nationalists chose to leave, and my grandparents went to Munich to work for Radio Free Europe), I didn’t know them well, and the stories about them always felt distant to me—I wanted to know more.” Which sounds like something Marty McFly might have said about his parents…before he almost made out with his mom.

Also in June, Lookout Author Matthew Neill Null sat in the hot seat with the Millions, to talk some of his favorite writers, West Virginia stories, and–coincidentally?–“living in a world with no future.” Matt also had a new story in the Harvard Review over the summer. The story contains a scene Matt cut from his novel with Lookout, Honey from the Lion, 9781555977498about an elk with a toothsome liver “bigger than a baby.” We’re glad he found a place for that line, in the future.

And we’re thrilled for fellow Lookout author Ben Miller, who received a research grant from the Schlesinger Library that will send him back to the future (or Harvard) in 2017.

Now we’ll speed through months of Belle Boggs news, beginning first with her fabulous essay for LitHub, “Writer, Mother, Both, Neither” back in June and flying to this past week’s New York Times book review of The Art of Waiting: On Fertility, Medicine, and Motherhood. Reviewer Jennifer Senior calls the book, “a corrective and a tonic, a primer and a dispeller of myths.” Ecotone published two essays of Belle’s over the last couple of years, and we can’t wait for the release of the book later this week.

In other Ecotone contributor news, Rebecca Makkai had a conversation with Louise Erdrich in early summer, “You Are the Book You’re Writing,” which was the backup title for Back to the Future, incidentally (or could have been). Zeina Hashem Beck’s collection 3arabi Song is now available from Rattle. “The voices in (this collection) 3arabiCovwant to mourn for loved ones and broken homelands, but they also want to sing.”

Two new books of poetry are available from issue Megan Snyder-Camp. Poetry. The Gunnywolf is the winner of the 2016 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize. “Megan Snyder-Camp’s third collection of poems, takes its title from an obscure folk tale about a wolf that scares little girls for their songs. Aiming to articulate what has been hiding in plain sight, Snyder-Camp considers whiteness, environmental racism, the Baltimore protests, mothering, and the everyday wilderness of modern-day life.” The second collection, Wintering, is available from Tupelo Press.

9781555977467(That’s a lot of singing from those last few titles, and none of it, we’d like to point out, from Huey Lewis and the News.)

The Star Tribune reviewed Issue 21 contributor Angela Palm’s memoir, Riverine, winner of this year’s Graywolf Nonfiction Prize, an essay of which appeared in Ecotone. From the review by Lauren LaBlanc: “Palm confronts questions such as whether or not geography determines fate. If we can reroute a river, can we ever escape the isolation of poverty? How can we transcend our surroundings?”

We hope you enjoyed this very fast trip through recent Lookout and Ecotone history, and that your long weekend is filled with all of the time travel, 80s music, and plutonium you can possible handle. See you next week!