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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, 2020 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize

“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

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.

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.

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