Philip Metres is the author of ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (forthcoming 2020), The Sound of Listening (essays, 2018), Sand Opera (poems, 2015), Pictures at an Exhibition (poems, 2016), I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (translations 2015), and others. His work has garnered a Lannan fellowship, two NEAs, six Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Hunt Prize, the Beatrice Hawley Award, two Arab American Book Awards, the Watson Fellowship, the Creative Workforce Fellowship, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.
Returning to Jaffa is a docupoetic inquiry into the mystery of what happened to Palestine’s most populous city and its municipal archives during the Nakba in 1948. Working with vintage postcards, Haganah leaflets, and personal photographs, Returning to Jaffa tells the story of one former resident of Jaffa, Nahida Halaby Gordon, a Palestinian who fled her native land during 1948, and who periodically returns to visit her childhood home, confiscated by Israel after the war.
With his exacting documentarian’s eye, Philip Metresdelivers this extraordinary excavation of the nuanced history of Jaffa, Palestine layered with a resounding signal boost to the testimony of Nahida Halaby Gordon, who was forced out of her ancestral home in 1948. This work reads as both sequel to the groundbreaking Sand Opera and prelude to the highly anticipated Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon, 2020). “In Yafa I attended Tabeetha School for Girls named after the girl brought back from death...” Halaby’s testimony ricochets off artifact after artifact of a people exiled. The result is a powerful reverberation we cannot afford to forget or tune out.
—Marwa Helal, author of Invasive species (Nightboat, 2019)
Returning to Jaffa is a love letter, an elegy, a psalm. These seeking, longing poems attempt to reconcile past and present, word and image, the impulse to speak and the need to listen. More than that, they attempt to reconcile people and cultures. Philip Metres writes poems that again and again help us to believe in that beautiful possibility.
—Dave Lucas, author of Weather and Ohio Poet Laureate
"A chronicle of a 2003 trip to Palestine on the occasion of the wedding of Philip Metres’s speaker’s sister, A Concordance of Leaves contains a single poem in page-long sections that further break down into one- and two-line stanzas, with typographical breaks between: an open or closed parenthesis. These visual cues reinforce the recurrent images of division and the crossing of divides. Metres’s speaker and his family cross the border from Israel to Palestine—'we had to lie & say we were tourists / & not guests at our sister’s wedding' to a Palestinian man—as well as 'the borders of fear,' into 'the country / of memory.'"
“Philip Metres has created a miracle—a tender book so transporting it carries us deeply into the soul of Palestine as well as the love of a family—mysteries and blessings of language and haunted details—each tiny turn as huge as history and the next precious page of days.”
—Naomi Shihab Nye
“A Concordance of Leaves is an epic poem of the indomitable yet fragile human spirit. Philip Metres brings Palestine and Palestinians into English with rare luminosity. One feels echoes of Oppen’s succinct tenderness in the depiction of the numerous characters of this work. Without other, there is no self. And that other is the stranger who must be loved. Concordance is, after all, a wedding poem—leaves and pages in search of a certain passage toward harmony.”