the magic my body becomes: Poems by

the magic my body becomes: Poems by Review

Winner, 2017 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize

In the magic my body becomes, Jess Rizkallah seeks a vernacular for the inescapable middle ground of being Arab American—a space that she finds, at times, to be too Arab for America and too American for her Lebanese elders.

The voice here freely asserts gender, sexuality, and religious beliefs, while at the same time it respects a generational divide: the younger’s privilege gained by the sacrifice of the older, the impossibility of separating what is wholly hers from what is hers second-hand.  

In exploring family history, civil war, trauma, and Lebanon itself, Rizkallah draws from the spirits of canonical Arab and Middle Eastern poets, and the reader feels these spirits exorcising the grief of those who are still alive. Throughout, there is the body, a reclamation and pushback against cultures that simultaneously sexualize and shame women. And there is a softness as inherent as rage, a resisting of stereotypes that too often speak louder than the complexities of a colonized, yet resilient, cultural identity.

Rizkallah’s the magic my body becomes is an exciting new book from an exciting young poet, a love letter to a people as well as a fist in the air. It is the first book in the Etel Adnan Poetry Series, publishing first or second books of poetry in English by writers of Arab heritage.

Title:the magic my body becomes: Poems by

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • Trey

    "why are you closing the curtain let them stare""we are all silent in the wrong places."Jess Rizkallah conducts her words and ideas through this collection in a vulnerable and profound way. She at onc...

  • Matt

    This is another one of those books that feels like it uses the slam poet form to present another ethnic category, this time Arab women, or to be more specific, Lebanese women. It's got poems spoken, a...

  • Megan Willoughby

    A moving, deeply-felt meditation on Lebanese/immigrant/female identity, homeland, loss, and power. Rizkallah touches on the conflict of the diaspora...and how one's homeland flows through one's blood ...

  • Sara Khayat

    As a fellow Lebanese American, I find this narrative to be essential....

  • Nour

    Absolutely striking....