Now on Display: "Like mint in a wall crack" Arab-American Poets at Work

“When a people leaves the dry, hot lands of civilization’s oldest cities (Damascus, Byblos, Jericho) and finds itself in one of the youngest countries on earth – what happens? For one thing, poetry. Like mint in a wall-crack, poetry sprouts from such ruptures of sensibility.”

These lines open the introduction to Grape Leaves: A Century of Arab-American Poetry, edited by poets Gregory Orfalea and Sharif Elmusa. Printed in 2000, Grape Leaves was the first published anthology of poetry written by Arab-Americans, a group whose love for poetry is described by Orfalea and Elmusa as “native and deep.” In recognition of Arab-American history month and National Poetry Month (which both occur in April), this display shares this landmark anthology next to the work of Arab-American poets from Williams Libraries’ circulating collection – not only poetry, but also translation, visual art, and writing about poetry. 

Many thanks to the Arabic TAs for assistance proof-reading the Arabic included in this display.