al youm, a chapbook by George Abraham
tanka as Firework
perhaps this is how
America prefers me:
body bursting mid
-air, blood staining horizon;
exhale and i am no longer —
(Originally published in Thrush)
George Abraham's hefty chapbook, al youm, is an examination of what is inherited, particularly in the face of Zionism when the body is queer, Palestinian, and wildly alive. It is a chapbook composed with form as much as it is with the erasure of form—form as poetics, form as memory, form as function, form as home. Redaction, too, is a wound that bleeds, as when Zionist revision forces a reissuing of meaning, an eschewing of Palestine, a violence bristling confessional into agonized song. But George is more than the black bars that keep him. His is a voice scarred but inviolate, able to move in the preternatural way survivors must carry themselves on. He travels forward and backward in his memories with a rage that starts to bloom into something new and haloed.
Through erasure, redaction, and traditional and new forms, he transforms the solipsism of his condition into a psalm: "you've danced with oblivion many times, / if anything else, she will remember your name." With nods to powerful contemporary poets such as Marwa Helal, Angel Nafis, and Ocean Vuong, this is a book that looks history down the barrel and sees beyond it the real community that drives us to speak. "& i, lone traveller, reshaping continents with my hands" George writes in the final poem "ode to my multiple orgasms." In his work, he gives the powers that occupy no credit to their destruction. It is resistance through subversion, immersion, a "body bursting mid / -air."
Praise for al youm:
George Abraham is the poetic love child of Whitman and Darwish, an exile living in the borderlands of his own queer Palestinian body. Through these poems—daringly experimental, explosively confession—he rebuilds himself out of his own erasure. In his words, "your body isn't a temple—/ your body is the heaven the temples bow to." —Philip Metres, author of Pictures at an Exhibition
George Abraham's poems are both guide and gift. Here is writing through the queer body in space and time; through ancestral memory and trauma; here is breath, soul, life—in America; in Palestine. Abraham's poems arrive as ingenious and necessary solutions to equations we don't yet know we need. This book is how we heal. —Marwa Helal, author of Invasive species (forthcoming)
George Abraham’s al youm engages my brain and my heart in ways both relentless and tender. These poems do such exciting things with form—they are simultaneously ancient and futuristic, considering old hurts and old histories while constantly reimagining what is possible in terms of what a poem can do—visually, syntactically, emotionally— on the page. However, their technical skill comes in no way at the expense of their pulsing, living heart—these poems hurt, and bloom, and I will never, ever stop thinking about them. —Safia Elhillo, author of The January Children
Order this chapbook today! Check out some poems from the chapbook:
Cover art by TAR coeditor Emily Raw (www.emilyraw.com)