"Written in a lucid style and with a good hold on her theoretical prerogatives, Marchi is able to give us a much-needed work on Arab women’s writings in the diaspora."—Muhsin al-Musawi, Columbia University
"Women in general are the tightrope-walkers of any society. Poets are too. Arabs in diaspora? Yes, that too."—Waed Athamneh, Connecticut College
"Written in a clear, lucid, and attentive prose, The Funambulists offers bold and insightful micro-readings into a much neglected corpus, namely that of Arab diasporic female poets attached to multiple languages, cultures, places, and literary traditions."—Claire Gallien, University Montpellier
The Funambulists brings together the diverse poetry collections of six contemporary Arab diasporic women poets. Spanning multiple languages and regions, this volume illuminates the distinct artistic voice of each poet, yet also highlights the aesthetic and political relevance that unites their work.
Marchi explores the work of Naomi Shihab Nye, a celebrated American poet of Palestinian descent; Iman Mersal, an Egyptian poet living in Edmonton, Canada, who writes in Arabic; Nadine Ltaif, a Lebanese poet who lives in Quebec and has adopted French as her language; Maram al-Massri, a Syrian poet writing in Arabic and living in France; Suheir Hammad, an American poet of Palestinian origin; and Mina Boulhanna, a Moroccan poet living in Italy and writing in Italian. Despite their varying geographical and political backgrounds, these poets find common ground in themes of injustice, spirituality, gender, race, and class. Drawing upon the concept of tension, Marchi examines both the breaking points and the creative energies that traverse the poetic works of these writers.
These celebrated funambulists use their art of balance and flexibility bolstered by their courage and transgression to walk a tightrope stretched out across cultures, faiths, and nations.
Table of Contents
Note on Transliteration and Spelling xvii
IntroductionLiterary and Worldly Tensions 1
Part 1. Encounters
1. The Everyday as Protean and EnchantingNaomi Shihab Nye’s Tender Spot 23
2. The Everyday as Claustrophobic and StaleIman Mersal’s These Are Not Oranges, My Love 43
Part 2. Crossings 101
3. Maritime CrossingsMina Boulhanna’s “Immigrata” and “Africa” 71
4. Oceanic CrossingsNadine Ltaif’s Ce que vous ne lirez pas 84
Part 3. Breaks
5. Breaking Love as an IdealMaram al-Massri’s A Red Cherry on a White-Tiled Floor 111
6. Afro-Arab BeatsSuheir Hammad’s breaking poems 130
ConclusionThe Stunning Vistas of Funambolic Art 153
Marchi 1st pages.indd 9 4/21/2022 6:45:22 AM x Contents
About the Author
Lisa Marchi teaches in the Department of Humanities at the University of Trento in Italy. Her research focuses on Arab diasporic literature.
Series: Gender, Culture, and Politics in the Middle East
6 x 9, 264 pages