Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear: Poems from Gaza

Available
4.9/5.0
21,000+ Reviews
Bookshop.org has the highest-rated customer service of any bookstore in the world
Product Details
Price
$15.95  $14.83
Publisher
City Lights Books
Publish Date
Pages
144
Dimensions
5.0 X 6.9 X 0.5 inches | 0.35 pounds
Language
English
Type
Paperback
EAN/UPC
9780872868601

Earn by promoting books

Earn money by sharing your favorite books through our Affiliate program.

Become an affiliate
About the Author
Mosab Abu Toha is a Palestinian poet, scholar, and librarian who was born in Gaza and has spent his life there. He is the founder of the Edward Said Library, Gaza's first English-language library. Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear is his debut book of poems. The collection won an American Book Award, a 2022 Palestine Book Award and was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, as well as the 2022 Walcott Poetry Prize.In 2019-2020, Abu Toha was a Visiting Poet in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University.Abu Toha is a columnist for Arrowsmith Press, and his writings from Gaza have also appeared in The Nation and Literary Hub. His poems have been published in Poetry, The Nation, the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, and the New York Review of Books, among others.
Reviews

Winner of a 2022 Palestine Book Award

Praise for Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear and Mosab Abu Toha:

"Written from his native Gaza, Abu Toha's accomplished debut contrasts scenes of political violence with natural beauty: In one poem, a 'nightingale departs the wet earth' two stanzas before the 'sound of a drone / intrudes.'"-The New York Times

"Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear is almost uniformly uninterested in palatability. This is not to say that the poems are not enjoyable, because they are, but it isn't because they take their base materials of agony, fatigue, fear, pellucid images, and the occasional twist of wit and try to alchemize them into false hope or squeeze them into anodyne platitudes. There is an unwaveringness in the poems' tone, and in their sequencing. One after the other, they recount--with occasional wryness, rarely varying flatness--daily experiences of bombs, tanks, death, power cuts, loss, and fear."--Conor Bracken, Cleveland Review of Books

"Like poets he admires, Abu Toha attempts to find beauty around him, however fleeting, and he also takes the reader on philosophical explorations of his reality. The poems don't just explore the physical experience of the conflict but also what isn't there because of generations of conflict. Not only does he contemplate the lives lost in Gaza but also the lost experiences: not being able to grow up in family homes, not having a grave of a loved one to visit, or, for Abu Toha specifically, not being able to go on adventures in the city of Jaffa that was lost to his grandparents who fled their home to Gaza."--World Literature Today

"There is a duality to the poems, a contrast of beauty and violence. Images of dust, concrete, and gunfire tell a story of growing up under siege. These same elements will stay with the reader for days. The book is very visual both in language and in photographs that make the lines hit even harder. Some of the forms and line breaks feel loose, but they are made with passion and striking details."--Booklist

"The sensational young Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha deftly harnesses the raw power of words and imagery to expose the cruel and often absurd realities of sustaining life in a city under siege. Abu Toha, who reflects on his family's prolonged statelessness, is a literary warrior for whom crafting poetry is an act of resistance against the occupying power. ... His debut poetry collection offers emotionally frank vignettes as well as an extended interview conducted by Ammiel Alcalay. The poetry cracks open a window to the stark realities of life for Gaza's struggling residents, with Abu Toha serving as a gentle yet insistent messenger who whispers: 'Look, see our wounds, they are real.'"--Shelf Awareness, starred review

"With this breakthrough debut collection, Mosab Abu Toha joins an extraordinary group of poets, intellectuals, and writers who have given voice to the resilience of the Palestinian people and their continued fight for justice while facing violent and inhuman conditions under Israel's continued military occupation ... Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear resists erasure and forgetting to imagine a future for Palestine: it is the 'rose ... among the ruins of the house, ' an image of survival that beckons the eternal return of beauty and justice."--Banipal Magazine

"Mosab Abu Toha's poems are short, accessible, visceral, and beautiful. 'Palestine A-Z' cries out for use in the classroom. Students will also be interested in the interview with Abu Toha at the end of the book. He talks about his childhood, what led him to poetry, and the context for some of the poems."--

Winner of a 2022 Palestine Book Award

Praise for Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear and Mosab Abu Toha:

"Written from his native Gaza, Abu Toha's accomplished debut contrasts scenes of political violence with natural beauty: In one poem, a 'nightingale departs the wet earth' two stanzas before the 'sound of a drone / intrudes.'"--The New York Times

"Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear is almost uniformly uninterested in palatability. This is not to say that the poems are not enjoyable, because they are, but it isn't because they take their base materials of agony, fatigue, fear, pellucid images, and the occasional twist of wit and try to alchemize them into false hope or squeeze them into anodyne platitudes. There is an unwaveringness in the poems' tone, and in their sequencing. One after the other, they recount--with occasional wryness, rarely varying flatness--daily experiences of bombs, tanks, death, power cuts, loss, and fear."--Conor Bracken, Cleveland Review of Books

"Like poets he admires, Abu Toha attempts to find beauty around him, however fleeting, and he also takes the reader on philosophical explorations of his reality. The poems don't just explore the physical experience of the conflict but also what isn't there because of generations of conflict. Not only does he contemplate the lives lost in Gaza but also the lost experiences: not being able to grow up in family homes, not having a grave of a loved one to visit, or, for Abu Toha specifically, not being able to go on adventures in the city of Jaffa that was lost to his grandparents who fled their home to Gaza."--World Literature Today

"There is a duality to the poems, a contrast of beauty and violence. Images of dust, concrete, and gunfire tell a story of growing up under siege. These same elements will stay with the reader for days. The book is very visual both in language and in photographs that make the lines hit even harder. Some of the forms and line breaks feel loose, but they are made with passion and striking details."--Booklist

"The sensational young Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha deftly harnesses the raw power of words and imagery to expose the cruel and often absurd realities of sustaining life in a city under siege. Abu Toha, who reflects on his family's prolonged statelessness, is a literary warrior for whom crafting poetry is an act of resistance against the occupying power. ... His debut poetry collection offers emotionally frank vignettes as well as an extended interview conducted by Ammiel Alcalay. The poetry cracks open a window to the stark realities of life for Gaza's struggling residents, with Abu Toha serving as a gentle yet insistent messenger who whispers: 'Look, see our wounds, they are real.'"--Shelf Awareness, starred review

"With this breakthrough debut collection, Mosab Abu Toha joins an extraordinary group of poets, intellectuals, and writers who have given voice to the resilience of the Palestinian people and their continued fight for justice while facing violent and inhuman conditions under Israel's continued military occupation ... Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear resists erasure and forgetting to imagine a future for Palestine: it is the 'rose ... among the ruins of the house, ' an image of survival that beckons the eternal return of beauty and justice."--Banipal Magazine

"Mosab Abu Toha's poems are short, accessible, visceral, and beautiful. 'Palestine A-Z' cries out for use in the classroom. Students will also be interested in the interview with Abu Toha at the end of the book. He talks about his childhood, what led him to poetry, and the context for some of the poems."--Rethinking Schools

"The proximity of death is palpable in Palestinian poet Mosab Abu Toha's devastating debut collection ... But even in the face of interminable violence, there's an ironic distancing at work ... An 'interlude' includes a series of photographs and accompanying captions. One depicts a schoolyard filled with children, and below it the words 'Mid-Term Test' are followed by a question: 'When a drone follows you on your way to school, what is it doing[?]' A range of possible answers are offered in multiple-choice format, including: 'It's counting your steps to make sure you're getting your daily exercise.' Such subdued humor filters through many of the poems in this collection, and the book closes on a hopeful note."--Diego Baez, Harriet Books, Poetry Foundation

"The Gaza of Mosab Abu Toha's childhood is a land of tortured ambiguities, a precarious, uncertain place where 'you don't know what you're guilty of, ' where 'breathing is a task' and 'smiling is performing / plastic surgery, ' as he writes in two poems from Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear (City Lights). Yet Palestine is also a land of poetry, of Mahmoud Darwish and Tawfiq Ziad. Abu Toha has now slipped seamlessly into that mantle, and this first collection announces his arrival at the helm of a new generation of Palestinian poets."--Jacob Appel, National Book Critics Circle Awards

"Reading the poems of Mosab Abu Toha is a breath-taking experience. Published by the prestigious City Lights Books, his poetry provides an important insider perspective on life in Gaza. From its surrealistic title to the interview with the poet that concludes the book there is much to discover and appreciate in this volume."--Jonathan Harrington, Beltway Poetry Quarterly

"Takes the reader on a turbulent journey of emotion with a series of gradual realizations where Palestinians come to terms with identity, memory and loss."--The New Arab

"Abu Toha takes readers on a journey, from the moment he began writing poetry in the midst of an Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2014. His collection of poems feature stories about poverty in Gaza, life under the siege, unemployment, and tales of bombs, on almost every page. This of course is no coincidence, as Abu Toha's poetry was born in the midst of the 2014 war."--Mondoweiss

"Mosab Abu Toha is neither a journalist nor a historian, but simply a young man whose four grandparents were forcibly removed from their homes in 1948, whose parents were born in refugee camps, and who himself was born in a refugee camp called Al-Shati in 1992. He is married, and the father of three young children. These poems, written in English, are alternately sweet, bitter-sweet, angry, bewildered, and heart-breaking."--Hollywood Progressive

"Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear is an account of what is lost in war, and what is preserved, both tangible and intangible. Abu Toha writes of his life under attack and threat of attack in Gaza, chronicling both the devastation of being hunted in your own homeland and the small pockets of grace found amongst the ruins. It is these scraps of a different, possible life that become the inheritance of those from whom all else has been taken. ... a startling collection rising up from the ruins of human hatred, reaching for the sun through drifting smoke."--David Nilsen, On the Seawall

"This may be one of the finest poetry books of this year. ... It is a complex book about a complex world, born from a contentious war that has lasted three generations, told by a youthful voice that has known nothing but. ... It is a book rife with death yet painted in every corner with an almost unbearable amount of life."--New York Journal of Books

"Mosab Abu Toha is an astonishingly gifted young poet from Gaza, almost a seer with his eloquent lyrical vernacular, his visions of life, continuity, time, possibility, and beauty. His poems break my heart and awaken it, at the same time. I feel I have been waiting for his work all my life."--Naomi Shihab Nye, author of The Tiny Journalist

"Mosab Abu Toha's elegant and unforgettable poetry calls me to celebrate the struggle to survive. Though forged in the bleak landscape of Gaza, he conjures a radiance that echoes Milosz and Kabir. These poems are like flowers that grow out of bomb craters and Mosab Abu Toha is an astonishing talent to celebrate."--Mary Karr, author of Tropic of Squalor

"Mosab Abu Toha's Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear arrives with such refreshing clarity and voice amidst a sea of immobilizing self-consciousness. It is no great feat to say a complicated thing in a complicated way, but here is a poet who says it plain: 'In Gaza, some of us cannot completely die.' Later, 'This is how we survived.' It's remarkable. This is poetry of the highest order."--Kaveh Akbar, author of Pilgrim Bell

"It has been amazing, and inspiring, to see how people surviving in the Gaza prison, subject to constant and vicious attack and living under conditions of brutal deprivation, continue to maintain their dignity and commitment to a better life. Mosab Abu Toha's initiative to create a library and cultural center in Gaza is an outstanding example of these remarkable efforts. What he is seeking to achieve would make a very significant contribution to enriching the lives of Gazans and providing them with opportunities for a much better future. It merits strong support from everyone concerned with justice and basic human rights."--Noam Chomsky on the Edward Said Public Library founded by Mosab Abu Toha

"This is a debut collection by Mosab Abu Toha and it's magnificent. The last book I read before reading this collection was Bittersweet by Susan Cain--a book about how not only is hardship inevitable, it often leads to amazing creative offerings. This couldn't have been a better prelude to reading Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear. I'd be hard-pressed to tell you if the most common word in the collection is bomb or shrapnel or F-16s. The author has drawn on his childhood in Gaza for the material of this collection. With that heartbreaking material, an incredible and beautiful creative offering has risen from its ashes."--Jennifer Willis Geraedts, Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, Park Rapids, MN

"In his searing and unflinching debut, Mosab Abu Toha writes of his beloved Gaza and the torments it continues to endure. These poems speak with palpable urgency. Nevertheless underneath the terror, there's a lingering sense of optimism and survival: 'Through it all, the strawberries have never stopped growing.'"--James Fraser, Grolier Poetry Book Shop, Cambridge, MA

"In a world that is being destroyed by forces that seem too big to fight, Mosab Abu Toha's poems show us the disappearing beauty of his homeland and the human cost of our apathy and passivity in the wake of our government's violence. May these delicate and powerful poems stir your heart and drive you to action."--Mandy Medley, Pilsen Community Books, Chicago, IL

"'We deserve a better death, ' begins one of Mosab Abu Toha's poems halfway through his remarkable collection, one that both honors the tens of thousands of Palestinians who have died since the 1940s, strangers in their own homeland; and celebrates the ways in which Palestinians today affirm their pasts, their presents, and their futures in the face of daily terror. The movement across the poems, fluid and urgent, brings a spectrum of Palestinian experiences and voices to life, filtered through Toha's incandescent voice. 'Why is it when I dream of Palestine, / that I see it in black and white?' he asks in 'Notebooks, ' but for the reader, Palestine, in all its brutal occupation and its determination to survive, shines in awesome color."--Anna Claire Weber, White Whale Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA