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Introducing RETURNING TO JAFFA, a chapbook by Philip Metres

Introducing Returning to Jaffa by

Philip Metres

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.


Advance Praise for Returning to Jaffa

With his exacting documentarian’s eye, Philip Metres delivers 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


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.


Further Reading from Returning to Jaffa

  • "The Palestinian Refugee's PowerPoint", Inverted Syntax | Issue 1

  • "INSTRUCTIONS TO THE ARAB POPULATION (2)", Beloit Poetry Journal | Vol. 68.1

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