June 18, 2019
5.5 X 7.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author
Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925. She studied philosophy at the Sorbonne, U.C. Berkeley, and at Harvard, and taught at Dominican College in San Rafael, California, from 1958-1972. In solidarity with the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), Adnan began to resist the political implications of writing in French and became a painter. Then, through her participation in the movement against the Vietnam War (1959-1975), she began to write poetry and became, in her words, "an American poet." In 1972, she returned to Beirut and worked as cultural editor for two daily newspapers--first for Al Safa, then for L'Orient le Jour. Her novel Sitt Marie-Rose, published in Paris in 1977, won the France-Pays Arabes award and has been translated into more than ten languages. In 1977, Adnan re-established herself in California, making Sausalito her home, with frequent stays in Paris. Adnan is the author of more than a dozen books in English, including Journey to Mount Tamalpais (1986) The Arab Apocalypse (1989), In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country (2005), and Sea and Fog (2012), winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry and the California Book Award for Poetry. In 2014, she was awarded one of France's highest cultural honors: l'Ordre de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres. Many of her poems have been put to music by Tania Leon, Henry Treadgill, Gavin Bryars, Zad Moultaka, Annea Lockwood, and Bun Ching Lam. Her paintings have been widely exhibited, including Documenta 13, the 2014 Whitney Biennial, CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, The New Museum, and Museum der Moderne Salzburg. In 2014, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art mounted a retrospective of her work.
A fragmentary, aphoristic examination of night in all its illuminating darkness from a Lebanese-American poet who is also an admired visual artist. --David Orr, The New York Times Book Review (Best of 2016 Poetry) Renowned Lebanese-American writer Adnan maps consciousness in a book-length poem that explores night in all its permutations. Though she is more elliptical and fragmentary here--and less narrative-driven or referential--than in previous work, these poems engage in a daring, meditative exploration of perception and her own experiences. Adnan does this with a courageous interiority that becomes universal as the text unfolds. Memory is a particularly notable leitmotif as it relates to identity, whether personal or collective. "I measure my memory of things, but not memory itself, as the present is also overflowing," she writes. These internal and societal memories lend themselves to queries about history, landscape, and the nature of consciousness. Adnan posits that memory is not a "storage room. It's not a tool for being able to think, it's thinking, before thinking." As the book progresses, memory becomes increasingly knotted with loss and mortality: "It was said that people mattered, which we did, and they lost their shine." Adnan never provides clear answers, but this prevents her wide-ranging assertions from becoming didactic; her evocative imagery and interwoven repetitions serve to create another memory--one that will linger with the reader long after the text's conclusion. --Publishers Weekly Adnan's Time is a book that crosses continents, encounters wars and heartbreaks, and looks brazenly at one's own mortality. And these poems do exactly what Adnan states, "I would like to reflect like a / buoy, thrown out from the depths / to the luminous mortal surface / of the sea." -Jennifer Firestone, Tarpaulin Sky There is a lot happening in these meditative postcards, from bombs dropping in Beruit to a return to Greece, sculptures or stripmining in California, composing a sequence of lyric sketches aware of and very concerned with how easily humanity turns against itself and its own interests, from the larger issues of planetary survival, to the intimate matters of how one person treats another... Yet her poems are filled with such a wonder and an openness, one that shows a wisdom, and, despite everything, an optimism and heart. -rob mclennan, rob mclennan's blog Through this rejection of boundaries, Adnan delivers an incomparable magnitude of emotional wisdom on the uncertainties that press on through life, writing both clarity and complication into our experience of reality. -Zeena Yasmine Fuleihan, Ploughshares Adnan poetically navigates the currents of desperation and hope with a clarity placed on the page in short stanzas that we can pick up and roll over in our minds again and again. Like the short lines written on the back of a postcard, the aphoristic quality of these verses allows them to take on different lives. They can be worked over with a different temporality as we return to them for multiple readings, as we explore how they interact with the preceding or following ones, and as we observe how they take on new shapes. -Emma Gomis, Asymptote Journal