Khaled Mattawa

Khaled Mattawa

Award-winning Poet & Author

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  • An Evening with Khaled Mattawa


“These are poems of exceptionally real human and political consequence, filled with news that the news does not speak. Khaled Mattawa’s poetry is a work of uncommon, poignant character, of resonance and depth.” ―Alberto Ríos

“Mattawa awakens readers to the human and geographical devastation wrought by the tendency to ‘other’ people.” ―Ploughshares

“Fiercely principled and faithful to a revelatory wildness of mind.” ―Major Jackson

Born and raised in Benghazi, Libya, poet Khaled Mattawa relocated to the United States as a teenager in 1979. Mattawa’s poetry frequently explores the intersection of culture, narrative, and memory. In a 2007 Blackbird interview, addressing the connection between his emigration from Libya to the United States and his poetry, Mattawa observed, “I think memory was very important to my work as a structure, that the tone of remembrance, or the position of remembering, is very important, was a way of speaking when I was in between deciding to stay and not stay, and I had decided to stay.”

Most recently, Mattawa is the author of the collection Fugitive Atlas (2020). With extraordinary formal virtuosity and global scope, these poems turn not to lament for those regions charted as theaters of exploitation and environmental malpractice but to a poignant amplification of the lives, dreams, and families that exist within them. In these exquisite pages, Mattawa asks how we are expected to endure our times, how we inherit the journeys of our ancestors, and how we let loose those we love into an unpredictable world.

Mattawa has published numerous other collections of poetry, including: Ismailia Eclipse (1995), Zodiac of Echoes (2003), Amorisco (2008), Tocqueville (2010), and Mare Nostrum (2019). He has translated volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry, including Adonis’s Concerto al-Quds (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) (2017) and Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems of Amjad Nasser (2009).

He coedited the anthologies Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Arab American Fiction (2004) and Post Gibran: Anthology of New Arab American Writing (1999). Mattawa’s own work has been widely anthologized as well. He is the recipient of several Pushcart Prizes and the PEN Award for Literary Translation, in addition to a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and a MacArthur fellowship.

He earned a BA in political science and economics from the University of Tennessee, an MA and an MFA from Indiana University, and a PhD from Duke University. The editor of Michigan Quarterly Review, he has taught at Indiana University; California State University, Northridge; and, currently, the University of Michigan.

Short Bio

Khaled Mattawa is the author of numerous books of poetry, and a critical study of the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish. His most recent collection of poetry is Fugitive Atlas. Mattawa has coedited two anthologies of Arab American literature and translated many volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry. His awards include the Academy of American Poets Fellowship prize, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and a MacArthur Fellowship. He currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at the University of Michigan.



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