Join us in welcoming poet Zania Alsous . She will be reading a selection of her work including poetry from her new award winning collection, Theory of Birds.
Inside the dodo bird is a forest,
Inside the forest a peach analog,
Inside the peach analog a woman,
Inside the woman a lake of funeral.
This layering of bird, woman, place, technology, and ceremony, which begins this first full-length collection by Zaina Alsous, mirrors the layering of insights that marks the collection as a whole. The poems in A Theory of Birds draw on inherited memory, historical record, critical theory, alternative geographies, and sharp observation. In them, birds—particularly extinct species—become metaphor for the violences perpetrated on othered bodies under the colonial gaze.
Putting ecological preservation in conversation with Arab racial formation, state vernacular with the chatter of birds, Alsous explores how categorization can be a tool for detachment, domination, and erasure. Stretching their wings toward de-erasure, these poems—their subjects and their logics—refuse to stay put within a single category. This is poetry in support of a decolonized mind.
Zaina Alsous is an abolitionist, a daughter of the Palestinian diaspora, and a movement worker in South Florida. Her poetry, reviews, and essays have been published in the Boston Review, the New Inquiry, the Kenyon Review and elsewhere. She edits for Scalawag Magazine, a publication dedicated to unsettling dominant narratives of the U.S. South. Her chapbook Lemon Effigies won the Rick Campbell Chapbook Prize and was published by Anhinga Press. Her first full-length collection A Theory of Birds won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, and will be published by the University of Arkansas Press in fall of 2019.