In her third poetry collection, Hijra, Hala Alyan creates poems of migration and flight reflecting and bearing witness to the haunting particulars in her transnational journey as well as those of her mother, her aunts, and the female ancestors in Gaza and Syria.
The reader sees war, diaspora, and immigration, and hears the marginalized voices of women of color. The poems use lyrical diction and striking imagery to evoke the weight of an emotional and visceral journey. They grow and build in length and form, reflecting the gains the women in the poems make in re-creating selfhood through endurance and strength.
In prose, narrative, and confessional-style poems, Alyan reflects on how physical space is refashioned, transmitted, and remembered. Her voice is distinct, fresh, relevant, and welcoming.
About the Author
Hala Alyan’s first poetry collection, Atrium, was awarded the 2013 Arab American Book Award in Poetry. Her second book, Four Cities, was published in September 2015. She is a clinical psychologist in New York City.
“Hala Alyan’s prize book is cogent and unfailingly beautiful. The Arabic word hijra, rooted in Mohammed’s undaunted escape to Medina, implies an honorable departure, and the intrepid female speaker of these vigilant, striking poems, in her telltale flight toward sanity, integrity, and safety, is wholly committed to creating a bomb-proof, dazzling language capable of conveying the phantom horror of a ‘perished city’ or the grace of downcast mothers ‘draping headstones with myrrh and lace.’ Hijra is no ordinary outcry or lament: with her electric metaphors and protean descriptions (‘asters the colors of sea glass’), everything Hala Alyan touches in this keen, ruby-like book, turns to priceless testimony and needed revelation, annealing legend and hard-won song.”—Cyrus Cassells, author of The Crossed-Out Swastika
"I hadn't heard of this poet before I picked up her collection in a bookstore in Queens and was immediately floored...by her use of image and mystery to explore migration and history. I love the work Southern Illinois University published (especially Charif Shanahan's Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing) and this book showed me how large a story you can tell inside of short strange-lyric poems."---Sam Sax, author of Madness, winner of the 2016 National Poetry Series Competition