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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 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.


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

When the white trees are no longer in sight
they are telling us something,
like the body that undresses
when someone is around,
like the woman who wants
to read what her nude curves
are trying to say,
of what it was to be together,
lips on lips
but it's over now, the town
we once loved in, the maps
we once drew
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,

When you doubt the world
look at the undivided darkness

look at Wheeler Peak
cliffs like suspended prayers

contemplate the cerulean
the gleaming limestone

the frozen shades
the wildflowers

look at the bristlecone pine
a labyrinth to winding