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About this poet

Fady Joudah was born in Austin, Texas, in 1971. The son of Palestinian refugees, he grew up in Libya and Saudi Arabia before returning to the United States for college. He attended the University of Georgia–Athens, the Medical College of Georgia, and the University of Texas, where he completed his studies in internal medicine.

In 2007 his first poetry collection, The Earth in the Attic (Yale University Press, 2008), was selected by Louise Glück as the winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets. In her foreword Glück writes, “Joudah’s model is less the allegory than the folktale, his language a language in which the anecdotal past is stored, renewed, and affirmed in the retellings. So, too, the chilling testimony of landscape becomes in language fixed, permanent, a means of both affirming and sustaining outrage.”

Joudah is also the author of Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance (Milkweed Editions, 2018), Textu (Copper Canyon Press, 2013) and Alight (Copper Canyon Press, 2013). His translation of Mahmoud Darwish’s The Butterfly’s Burden (Copper Canyon Press, 2006) was a finalist for the 2008 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and his translation of Ghassan Zaqtan’s Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (Yale University Press, 2012), won the 2013 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Along with writing poetry, Joudah volunteers for Doctors Without Borders and serves as an ER physician. He lives in Houston, Texas.


Bibliography

Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance (Milkweed Editions, 2018)
Textu (Copper Canyon Press, 2013)
Alight (Copper Canyon Press, 2013)
The Earth in the Attic (Yale University Press, 2008)

The Poem as Epiphyte

All this talk through a tunnel 
of kid gloves and landmines went underground.

You were catching my limbs
in sequels and spoofs, commemoration my organs

with friends lost, whose names like patients’ names.
Our clumped desire stirs and how

when unwound, as with DNA, it sweetly wounds us.
Hope in the right place, you said, is hope misplaced

or no hope at all. But I say, in my dreams I dream, 
in my dreams I do not hope.

Where were you when was I? Counting down
the decades for the prize as victim of our previous war.

Were you my cactus heart and kelp forest,
a gluttonous hunger I ate myself famished,

an app, a tower or two, and flew 
as a swan flies into a sand file that said, 

“No more monkeys dead on the bed”?
In my dreams the universe anneals for tents 

that fall like mamas from heaven.
And you were tablet and me pill,

surgery and me drone, firefly
and me shooting star, where

when my clone was made interminable 
no illness could.

And the space between raindrops a shelter,
the mountaintop a lake,

the gecko an oriole, the athel a bulbul,
and I was seagrass and you 

the banyan.

Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © 2018 by Fady Joudah. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

Originally published in the September 2018 issue of Words Without Borders. © 2018 by Fady Joudah. By arrangement with the author. All rights reserved.

Fady Joudah

Fady Joudah

Fady Joudah, born in Texas in 1971, is the author of Textu (Copper Canyon Press).

by this poet

poem
When I tell it, the first time
I saw hail, I say
it was in a desert and knocked
 
a man unconscious
then drove a woman into my arms
because she thought the end was near
 
but I assured her
this wasn’t the case.
 
When he tells it,
he smiles, says the first winter
after their exodus
was the coldest.
 
Rare snow
2
poem

it'll be kept secret
from her four daughters

who'll be flying in
from three different countries

after years of absence
reunion ends



When the grandmother dies

it'll ruin summertime
for the grandkids who

in their mothers' grief

poem

When the shooting began
Everyone ran to the trucks
Grabbed whatever their backs needed
And made for the trucks
Except K

And they begged him to get on
The ones who ran to the trucks
But he refused them all

Later they found him
On the road running
And howling and