“A beautiful and substantive collection.”—James Tolan, Ploughshares blog
(James Tolan Ploughshares
“[Zaqtan] examines states of being in quotidian life with the patience and care of a jeweler.” —Kevin Hong, Arts Fuse
(Kevin Hong Arts Fuse
“[A] rare occurrence in the poetry world: a documentary perspective of life in a time of war delivered through lyrical utterance. Zaqtan is not a documentary poet. But his lyric voice sketches in his notebook the bloody events of his country, and the policemen and gunshots become myths, become lyric fire.”—Katie Farris & Ilya Kaminsky, American Book Review
(Katie Farris & Ilya Kaminsky American Book Review
“Zaqtan’s poems are uncompromising in their direct engagement with daily life, detailing the way in which the quotidian is, after all, the grand narrative of history. Joudah’s brilliant translations capture not only sense, sound, and rhythm, but also pulse, infusing the English language with a new sensibility.”—Cole Swensen, Iowa Writers’ Workshop
“Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me
’s generous selection of Ghassan Zaqtan’s poems, masterfully and compellingly translated by Fady Joudah, is a gift. Zaqtan is not only the most important Palestinian poet alive, but one of the most important poets of our time, embodying in various sophisticated and cosmopolitan forms of expression depths of feeling, complexity, compassion, and witness beyond compare.”—Lawrence Joseph, author of Into It
“The poet’s trade is exile, & a Palestinian poet’s trade thus a double exile: Ghassan Zaqtan’s work is exemplary in that its lyrical intensity simultaneously hides & foregrounds this quest’s epic dimensions.”—Pierre Joris, author of A Nomad Poetics
“Reading Fady Joudah’s remarkable translations of Zaqtan, I was thinking of the great poet and mythmaker of Yugoslavia, Vasko Popa, who also saw violence and wrote the dream-time of his nation. Like Popa, Zaqtan is unafraid to claim his roots, but also to see the “secret builders Cavafy had awakened / passing through the hills,” digging by his pillow. For this bravery and lyric skill, I am grateful.”—Ilya Kaminsky
“In Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me, [translator] Joudah seamlessly laces the poems together into one fragile assemblage in which themes and images emerge, fade, only to reemerge. No theme is more prevalent and so tightly stitched into the fabric of Zaqtan’s poetry than death. Zaqtan’s obsession with death is the foundation from which life is fostered.”—Dina Omar, Warscapes
(Dina Omar Warscapes
Finalist for the 2013 PEN American Center Literary Awards/Translations.
(Translation award PEN American Center
International Winner of the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize sponsored by the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry
(Griffin Poetry Prize
Awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation 2014 Fellowship for Creative Arts in the Field of Poetry.
(Fellowship John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
About the Author
Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan is the author of ten collections of poetry. He is also a novelist, editor, playwright, and journalist. Fady Joudah is a practicing physician of internal medicine and an award-winning poet and translator. He lives in Houston, TX.