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Also a satire, perhaps of the metaphysical. Thank you! That's sort of the happiest news of the day for me. There is levity in spiritual arrivals also. Yeah, and you know right before that final section… The dialogue between the two earths? Right, the two earths, the eczema and the garlic and the watermelon and all that stuff. It tucks in a lot of cultural items. You know, the garlic and the watermelon, for instance, is a joke in Arabic, it's like an idiomatic joke and it's about mocking vanity.


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Then along comes Pink Panther and saves the day. It's all personal for me. I could tell you personal insight into the book. I have a lot of family in Gaza, cousins and uncles who have children and who, on the rare occasion that I speak with them, tell me how their children suffer.

Carl Phillips on Who's Winning the Oldest Annual Literary Award in America

Their hearts are broken because their children are growing up under Israeli terror. Even Gaza now becomes a safe reflex for those of us who prefer to sigh. They are.

1. Introduction

They begin it. But anyway, just to tell you that one of my cousins actually has enuresis from growing up as a seven-year-old in Gaza. If you slam the door by mistake, she will have a startled reflex, and sometimes she will pee in her pants. Le petit princess with PTSD who gets none of the limelight that soldiers, sanctioned killers with PTSD, get when they survive their trauma through literature.

That's horrible. The form of the poems transform as the collection progresses too, as if in response to their content This is why the poems are shaped the way they are, without punctuation. The lack of punctuation offers the only illusion of structural coherence. I use virgules now and then. It disturbed some readers because my use of the virgule did not abide by an easily recognizable pattern, not enslaved in the geometry of diction. That might be a good bridge to Textu , and the decision to write a book of poems where each is exactly characters.


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Most people have unlimited texting. Few worry about writing a message in characters. You're not going to get billed for it. It's unlimited texting, it's a flat fee. In other parts of the world, many if not most people pay per text, and there are still people in the US who have limited texting, people who need to worry about their character count. So to use character count is also a reflection of this sort of market economy translation of life in our time, the differences between those who have and those who don't.

Interview with Fady Joudah, Palestinian-American poet

It is also an elegy of sorts. With all these apps for communication popping up, Viber and Whatsapp etc, to satiate our voracious appetite for the unlimited. I think that the SMS is more private for poetry. Twitter is sort of like spitting something out in the wind. It's a different art form. There are those who have mastered it as well, like Teju Cole or Patricia Lockwood. So it would be interesting to sort of link that conversation about Textu to the art of Twitter feed in the hands of somebody like Cole or Lockwood.

I chose to do something that emphasized the intimacy and privacy of the matter or medium, which is also a reflection of the contemporary poem and its limitation as well. I shared most of the poems in Textu with friends as soon as I wrote them.

I would send the text messages with light and sound that announce a language you're not used to receive in a text message. And I was in a moment where I wanted to write, frankly. I was hungry for writing. I had just done the Lannan residency in Marfa for about two months and I didn't write one single Textu.

I wrote a lot and read a lot and it was an amazing experience, and when I came back from it to go back to my life, I found myself very quickly just uncontrollably seeking to remain in touch with that energy of language, and the Smartphone presented itself.

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Sometimes it felt like a Jackson Pollack drip painting. All this idea of creation that really opens up onto a world without me being inauthentic, you know? Textu is not cute or a gimmick. You talk about your revision and editing process and I'm wondering how much of these poems came out in their first drafts, as texts, and how much was chipped away at later.

Sometimes I pumped a few of them out spontaneously and they turned out to be exactly characters at first asking. Like I said, it became such a physical translation of my being, an embodiment. I just existed in that rhythm. It was like crafting a wooden ship or something to take into the sea. And it was exhilarating, though eventually it came to be maddening after a year. I don't know if I would even consider the thought of putting myself in that physical state again. I would imagine you needed a recharge period. And so much of it was my paying attention differently to sounds and sentences and ideas that came floating through my mind or through the mouths of others.

Laughing There were times when I would go to horrendous corporate medical meetings, and as a way to survive them, I would come out with three or four textus in a two-hour meeting, just because I couldn't listen to a word of that jargon. Translations, new poems? I always write poems and dabble in translation.


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  4. I am also working with prose now, a non-fiction perhaps. But most importantly, I am really trying to understand a conversation with silence. I think my frustration with questions of politics and medicine, ethnicity and healing, etc, leaves me little choice but to change the conversation. Interview Posted: February 2, Poetry Foundation Profile Link. Griffin Poetry Prize Profile Link. Drag left. Tiana Clark. Chase Berggrun.

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