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Strip

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Poems
Jessica Abughattas
October 2020
74 pages, 5 ½ × 8 ½
978-1-68226-148-4 (paper)
978-1-61075-730-0 (ebook)

 

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Winner of the 2020 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, Jessica Abughattas’s Strip is a captivating debut about desire and dispossession and that tireless poetic metaphor—the body. Audacious and clear-eyed, plainspoken and brassy, Abughattas’s poems are songs that break free from confinement as they span the globe from Hollywood to Palestine.

Jessica Abughattas, who received an MFA from Antioch University, is a Kundiman Fellow. Her work has been published in Lit Hub, Redivider, BOAAT, Muzzle, The Journal, and Tinderbox, among other publications. She lives in Los Angeles.

“The mystery that Abughattas composes is always moving toward an impossible freeing of the self from its numerous frames. Yet frame by frame . . . she suspends our disbelief, catalogs those potentialities in an America always ready to shoot, direct, and produce the film of itself. Strip is ‘in love with possibility,’ ‘in praise of here I am, here I’ve been,’ USA style. Strip celebrates the body—its rise and fall, ebb and flow, in a carnival of parties—restlessly, shamelessly, searching for a way out…. Even as Abughattas claims that ‘I can’t believe sometimes I have a body,’ her poems teem with an awareness of the body’s unavoidable centrality in our lives—in how we view our lives, and how others view them; in how they progress, and how they end; in how they become meaningful, and how they are stripped of meaning. And no stripping escapes memory. Whether in terms of dispossession or sexuality, admiration or pity, Abughattas renders her treatment of the body with candor and poignancy. . . . The most startling moments in Abughattas’s poems, however, depend not on shocking or intimate details—but on the ‘I’ pulling away from the self, abandoning the ego, and gazing outward. She tries to see something else, to escape the body’s restraints.”
—Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara, series editors, from the Preface

“Somewhere between the sweetness of a blood orange and the crime scene it leaves behind on your fingers is Jessica Abughattas’s Strip. From what I’ve gathered from her poems, Abughattas could walk into any dinner party or any influencer tent at Coachella and win the hearts of every single attendee. But it’s Abughattas’s poignant critique driven by heat, the eloquent shit-talking on the drive home, that gives Strip such momentum and audacity. These poems are my favorite flavor.”
—Olivia Gatwood, author of Life of the Party

“The poems in Strip are love songs that lay bare the violences and tendernesses of the body. With striking images, with direct and penetrating language, with a strong personal voice, with humor, Jessica Abughattas explores love, lust, loneliness, the lies we tell ourselves, our ‘brief astonishment.’ A wonderful collection you’re going to want to read in one sitting, then read again.”
—Zeina Hashem Beck, author of Louder than Hearts

Strip is a stunning debut. Any subject Jessica Abughattas writes about becomes a conundrum in the most beautiful of ways. Her poems are little apertures that open up, slant, and snap shut, all the while singing. How does her work both shatter and sing at once? A brilliant collection by a poet to watch.”
—Victoria Chang, author of Obit

Series Editors’ Preface

Dinner Party
Love Lyric
All My Life’s Been a Costume Party
Thirteen Ways of Looking at an Arab Girl
The Wedding
Terrible’s Roadhouse
The Desert Doesn’t Know
Strip
The Pure Gold Baby
Echo Lines
Litany for My Father
Secondhand
Haute Bohème
Movie Man
Musso’s
Winona Forever
Legalization
The Love Song of J. A. (in a Frock)
On Loving
Semantics
May All Living Things Have Peace
She Cannot Bear to Hear His Name
Dark Rooms
Watching My Mother
Five and Perfect
Mama
Her Hands
Requiem in the Voice of __________
She Tells Me About Her Hundred Lives
What I Want
Anthem with Emerald and Gold
The Blood Move
Little Dume
Orgy (Bat Poem)
Grand Marnier Poems
Lying
Luck
The Sound
Riding in a Bus on the Way to Prison
Another Dinner Party
When Almaza Became the Earth

Notes
Acknowledgments

Every year the University of Arkansas Press together with the Radius of Arab American Writers accepts submissions for the Etel Adnan Poetry Series and awards the $1,000 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize to a first or second book of poetry, in English, by a writer of Arab heritage. Since its founding in 1996 the Radius of Arab American Writers has celebrated and fostered the writings and writers that make up the vibrant and diverse Arab American community; and the University of Arkansas Press has long been committed to publishing diverse kinds of poetry by a diversity of poets. The series editors are Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah, and the prize is named in honor of the world-renowned poet, novelist, essayist, and artist Etel Adnan.”>Etel Adnan Poetry Series and awards the $1,000 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize to a first or second book of poetry, in English, by a writer of Arab heritage. Since its founding in 1996 the Radius of Arab American Writers has celebrated and fostered the writings and writers that make up the vibrant and diverse Arab American community; and the University of Arkansas Press has long been committed to publishing diverse kinds of poetry by a diversity of poets. The series editors are Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah, and the prize is named in honor of the world-renowned poet, novelist, essayist, and artist Etel Adnan.

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