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Traveling Mercies

Overview


Traveling Mercies begins with the poet's family--those who emigrated from Lebanon, and those who remained behind, enduring their homeland's civil strife. His affinity extends naturally into intimate poems about Central American refugees with whom he has worked and Native American children who were his students. Whether he writes a transparent lyric, a resonant narrative, or a poem that proceeds through a series of cathartic images that can bring to mind Lorca's notion of ...
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Overview


Traveling Mercies begins with the poet's family--those who emigrated from Lebanon, and those who remained behind, enduring their homeland's civil strife. His affinity extends naturally into intimate poems about Central American refugees with whom he has worked and Native American children who were his students. Whether he writes a transparent lyric, a resonant narrative, or a poem that proceeds through a series of cathartic images that can bring to mind Lorca's notion of duende, the language sings.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The premise of this debut volume holds promise--a Lebanese-American contrasting the Old World Lebanon his grandparents told about to the modern war-ravaged Lebanon he can only imagine from news photos. And the poems in the book's opening pages appear to live up to the reader's expectations. ``The people I come from were thrown away / as if they were nothing,'' Williams says early on--words which take on greater weight when juxtaposed with the ending of a poem praising a potato: ``if we did not eat your strength, / you'd drive it up, into a flower.'' Delving deeper into the collection, however, one realizes the poet is a one-trick pony, his song a monotone. The parenthetical notation at the end of one poem states that it was written in Mexico. The next is set in Oaxaca, but the landscape itself could be easily be Lebanon; war in Beirut is parallel to the battle of guerrillas in Nicaragua or El Salvador. It all blurs together into unspecific, cliched impressions. Even more distressing, this seems intentional: ``Art and love require / particulars, but I speak, / generally, emblematically, / because the story is not uncommon.'' True, and we've heard it before. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780914086987
  • Publisher: Alice James Books
  • Publication date: 7/1/2002
  • Pages: 80
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Table of Contents

Recognition 1
Breath 5
My Grandmother and the Dirbakeh 6
Head o' Falls 8
Privacy 12
A Tree by the Water/Saltatory Process 13
The Violin Maker 17
Outdoor Movies at the State Park 18
Keeping Watch 19
After Banking Hours 20
In Praise of the Potato 21
The Loom 22
Pueblo Day School 23
Bright Weight and Sight 24
Sojourner's Air 26
Ecology 27
For My Grandmother 28
Come down with me from Lebanon 33
My Great-Uncle's Broken Song 35
A Mirror in the Karentina 36
A Face 38
Seeds and Names 39
Available Light 40
In Memory 41
Offering 44
After the Market 45
Mantle of Light 46
Constellations 48
Homage to Oscar Romero 49
In Memory of Maura Clarke and All the Others 50
After the Sumpul Massacre 51
Security Forces 52
Rio Escondido 53
Further Arguments Against the War 54
Collusion 55
A Silence 57
In Exile 61
Southside 63
Almost One 66
A Dream about My Grandfather's Life 68
Lasts 69
Glossary of Arabic and Spanish Words 71
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