- Paperback: 104 pages
- Publisher: Three Rooms Press (23 May 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 098358138X
- ISBN-13: 978-0983581383
- Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 0.6 x 22.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,47,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Atrium: Poems Paperback – Import, 23 May 2012
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Winner, 2013 Arab-American Book Award for Poetry "Don't miss the dazzling Hala Alyan. Wow. When she says 'the poetry like a spear, ' she isn't kidding." --Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, Transfer "Hala Alyan's poems startle us with their beautiful, enigmatic images and capture us with their passionate engagement with the world. A powerful debut." --Chitra Divakaruni, author, Mistress of Spices "For all the stunning angularity in this vision, we do not doubt that what we are seeing and sensing here is a surprising, sharp-edged sense of the real, of a world that had been there all along, just waiting for this poet and these poems to reveal. Start to finish, these poems convey a singular vision and represent an important new voice in the international poetry arena." --Fred Marchant, poet, Tipping Point "Atrium is a formidable volume: irreverent, clever, hyper-erudite and laugh-out-loud funny, with moments of arresting darkness and disturbing intensity to boot. Whether it's Greek mythology, nightclub culture, obscene sex acts or Beirut, there is scarcely one subject in these 88 pages to which Alyan doesn't bring fierce originality, feeling and flair." --New Lebanon Review
About the Author
Hala Alyan is a Palestinian American writer and clinical psychologist, whose work has been universally praised worldwide. Her poetry collection ATRIUM (2013, Three Rooms Press) was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry, while her collection, HIJRA, was selected as a winner of the 2015 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and published by Southern Illinois University Press. Her debut novel, SALT HOUSES (2017, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) was awarded the 2018 Dayton Literary Peace Price for fiction, the 2018 Arab-American Book Award for Fiction, and "Best Book of the Year" by NPR, NYLON, and Kirkus Reviews. She is a Lannan fellow and currently resides in Brooklyn.
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The first section of poems are curiously titled after zodiac signs. She gives intimate, powerful lines honoring language, imagery and metaphor such as,
The buttons from the soldiers line the glass boxes,
- from “Sagittarius”
Within your fists the fleece jounces.
- from “Aries”
And with wit such as,
Poppies or girls
what cannot survive gutters is doomed.
- from “Virgo”
The second section, are a continuation of what places the reader in a personal relationship of the named like in “Scarlett O’Hara at the Nightclub,” “Ella When She’s Drunk,” and “Sahar & Her Sisters.”
In “Sahar & Her Sisters,” Alyan illustrates the painful impact of brutally violent misogyny, beginning from when the girls are born. In the poem, the “women who love women” results in their murder which I found reminiscent of the lynching of Blacks in America.
Especially unique which I have never seen written about in poetry is “Honeypot” which as Alyan explains is a “phrase for spy work involving sexual seduction.” The last lines, she describes a complex theme in a few lines,
Every time: Thighs taut.
Seeing her mother’s hands
but thinking victory.
The third section continues her unique poetic voice and eclectic subject matter. In the same section she writes about a poetry workshop, belly dancing, and “The Year of Courtney Love”. In “Beirut” Alyan writes about oppression as, “God-stitched / men can plant checkpoints in women just as easily / as cities.”
Atrium is a must read in contemporary poetry. It is poem after poem of edgy, lucid images and themes unflinching in their tone. Alyan breaks rules with metaphor and form in such a way that paves a way for a new kind of poetry.
I still don't think I'm explaining why this book is so wonderful, but I will give up for now and just say: read it! Read it, read it, read it! And if you don't like it or it doesn't speak to you at first, come back again later, because it will.