Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226642642 Published September 2019
E-book $10.00 to $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226642789 Published September 2019 Also Available From
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Bitter English

Ahmad Almallah

Bitter English

Ahmad Almallah

96 pages | 6 x 9 | © 2019
Paper $18.00 ISBN: 9780226642642 Published September 2019
E-book $10.00 to $18.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226642789 Published September 2019
Imagine you are a Palestinian who came to America as a young man, eventually finding yourself caught between the country you live in with your wife and daughter, and the home—and parents—you left behind. Imagine living every day in your nonnative language and becoming estranged from your native tongue, which you use less and less as you become more ensconced in the United States. This is the story told by Ahmad Almallah in Bitter English, an autobiography-in-verse that explores the central role language plays in how we construct our identities and how our cultures construct them for us.
 
Through finely crafted poems that utilize a plainspoken roughness to keep the reader slightly disoriented, Almallah replicates his own verbal and cultural experience of existing between languages and societies. There is a sense of displacement to these poems as Almallah recounts the amusing, sad, and perilous moments of day-to-day living in exile. At the heart of Bitter English is a sense of loss, both of home and of his mother, whose struggle with Alzheimer’s becomes a reflection of his own reality in exile. Filled with wit, humor, and sharp observations of the world, Bitter English brings a fresh poetic voice to the American immigrant experience.
Review Quotes
Charles Bernstein, author of Near/Miss
“Ahmad Almallah’s Bitter English is a book of prismatic pulsations writ against moving backgrounds. These counterpaeans are balm to the exiled and grieving—and to all of us newly arriving.”
Naomi Shihab Nye, author of 19 Varieties of Gazelle
“Almallah is a true original, apparent from the first time I heard him read a poem aloud, years ago. As a follower of his terrific work, I am delighted to see it brought together in Bitter English. His poetry, both fresh and frank, entrances readers through astonishing, breathtaking ways of unfolding. Almallah’s writing is immensely relevant; we need his voice."
Donna Masini, author of 4:30 Movie
“‘I wanted to write a love poem but instead / I watched the news’ begins a poem in Ahmad Almallah’s wrenching collection, in which the news is terrible, the familiar is inscrutable, and the structures—of language, home, disaster, family, citizenship, consciousness—are broken. With grief, rage, and a fierce love, Almallah dares himself to imagine with ‘this english tongue I use’—in line waiting for stamps or recycling plastics—and what harrowing poems his bitter English has wrought.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit https://www.press.uchicago.edu
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