‘A Rose is a Lover Loving’
The Greek poet Meleager in the first century B.C. described the rose as “a lover loving.” Western and Arabic cultures have given rise to powerful love poetry tropes and rhetorics. Yet, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, love poetry is thought to be in decline, and, for some, a mere ideological overlay or imaginary formation for a more real sex and desire. Jeanne Heuving and Maged Zaher explore otherwise and discuss the political implications of the love poetry they engage. Drawing on her own poetry and her just published book, The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics, Heuving maintains that a defining vein of Anglo-American avant-garde poetry is the transmutation of love. Unified emotional states are rejected for ecstatic explorations in which all aspects of a poem are generative of meaning. In The Consequences of the Body, Zaher takes on Middle Eastern love poetry from his current existence in the U.S. and his prior life in Egypt, casting an oblique shadow over Western romance.
ON The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics
“This vibrant contribution to poetic criticism makes claims for love as ecstatic perception, the I as “othered” in love, and the affects and effects of this eros, all going beyond the poetry of the yearning gaze and the static beloved into a wider libidinal field”—Rachel Blau DuPlessis
“The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics proposes that the engagement of sexual love and its energies is the source of the creative power in some of the most interesting poetry written in the past one hundred years.”—Peter O’Leary
ON The Consequences of My Body
This sequence of short lyrics explores love, the most ancient of subjects in the most contemporary and immediate ways. The varying poetics of both ancient and modern Arabic poetry inflect this book-long exploration of the materiality of the body, negotiating the terrain of love, and its denials. Zaher explores the landscape of life fraught with disappointments and occasional triumphs through fragments, lyrics, metatextual pauses, stutterings, translations of ancient poetry and the occasional late-night email. This epic foray into fraught emotional territory is alive with Zaher’s particular gift of keen observation, deft whimsy and superb intelligence “Totally alive, funny, sharp, shapely, and never dull” – Wayne Koestenbaum
Jeanne Heuving has published two critical monographs and two creative books. Her cross genre book Incapacity won a 2004 Book of the Year Award from Small Press Traffic.
Maged Zaher currently lives in Seattle. He has five books of poetry and two translation books of Arabic poetry. In 2013 he won the weekly Stranger’s Genius award in literature.