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Nathalie Handal

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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.


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

We walk through clouds
wrapped in ancient symbols

We descend the hill
wearing water 

Maybe we are dead 
and don’t know it

Maybe we are violet flowers
and those we long for 

love only 
our unmade hearts

On attend, on attend

Wait for Duras and Eminescu 
to tell us in French then Romanian


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


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,