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Distributed for CavanKerry Press

Deep Are These Distances Between Us

Poems that imagine Persian and Iranian American lives.
In Deep Are These Distances Between Us, Susan Atefat-Peckham troubles preconceptions of nationhood and fixed systems of power by bringing the reader into the Iranian American home, offering glimpses of familial love and intimacy. Atefat-Peckham reaches for a network of care—the foundations of which are located in the ability of these poems to evoke the rich landscape of Iranian American lives. Articulating a spirituality that has no spatial or temporal boundaries, one which travels effortlessly between life and death, this collection is a treatise on the empathy we need now more than ever.

An up-and-coming poet who died just four years after winning the National Poetry Series Award in 2000, Susan Atefat-Peckham was deeply concerned by the Islamophobic “Axis of Evil” rhetoric deployed after 9/11 and was skeptical of attempts by the United States to “democratize” the Middle East. Representing the lives of immigrants in the United States and Persians in Iran, as well as the distance that separates their experiences and the love that binds them together, Atefat-Peckham brings an important voice to that conflict—one of the family and the home, where glimpses of intimacy and care rival imperial oppression.

96 pages | 6 x 9


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“It is natural that under the words of poems like these, a geography of forms. Transnational, existing between countries and cultures, the poems of Susan Atefat-Peckham were part of the charting of a unique landscape. Like the poems of Meena Alexander, Shreela Ray, Reetika Vazirani, and Agha Shahid Ali, her poems have languages, locales, food, and fabrics fully other than the familiar material of American poetry. We have been waiting a long time for new poems from Susie, and here they are, found in files by her son, another poet of life and the mind. Rumi taught us that every poem must be followed by silence. We must listen carefully to the words we have been given. We are not bereft. This is a cartography of love and wonder. Cardinals, cardinals everywhere.”

Kazim Ali, author of 'The Voice of Sheila Chandra'

“These poems burst from ‘the deep dark black mouth of memory’ where Atefat-Peckham navigates borders of existence and effectively sings herself back into this world. ‘Nothing dies in places we’ve left behind,’ she writes, then lifts up the moon at her feet and gives it ‘back to the empty sky.’”

Sholeh Wolpé, author of 'Abacus of Loss'

“I first met Susan Atefat-Peckham through her poems—a kindred spirit navigating the spaces between. I wrote to her and our correspondence was one of a shared searching. When I learned of her death, I reached out to Joel Peckham, her husband, asking him to lend me some of her poems for the anthology, Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora, which he generously offered and which opened each section of that book. How beautiful, more than sixteen years later, to see a whole collection of her work tended and lovingly brought into the world by her young poet-son, Darius . . . and to ‘think of what it means to be left behind, think of the scream, so loud it comes out in silent bowls shimmering with the hands of those who survive.’ This collection is a gift. These poems, ‘quiet with negotiation’ and a ‘shimmering’ connect the deep ‘distances between us.’”

Persis Karim, poet and editor

Table of Contents

Foreword Darius Atefat-Peckham

Smuggling (A Short Essay)

Night Conversations

I: Appearances

Small Things
How to Get to the House on Takhti Street
Ghossam Remembers His Brother
Outside the Mosque
The Meanings of Names
How to Cut
Agha Rashid Breathes In
Nina Hears
The Memory of Cells
Nina Calls
Why They Attacked

II: Lovers

The Anatomy of Hands
At the Airport
Ai’d Mobarack
Dissecting Turtles (added)
Sestinelle for Travelers
Filling the Spaces We Know
Walking Home in Autumn
To My Unborn Son
To My Son at Seven Months
To My Son at Ten Months

III: Continuance

At Night
Ghossam Sleeps
A Visitor
Zeeba Says
In the Morning
Lower Manhattan
Interring the Body
Instructions on What to Say First at a Muslim Burial
Where You Are

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