Tuesday, July 18, 2006


of not having come to read Etel Adnan's In The Heart of the Heart of Another Country until today with missiles and bombs exploding in Lebanon and Israel.

I've long been curious about Adnan's poetry/memoir. It's a remarkable book, one of the few from contemporary writers that has made me wish, "Oh, I wish I wrote that!" (not, of course, in terms of content but its form, including how it handles its content, and specifically referring to the form of the book's overall (narrative) arc) and which is certainly one definitive answer to Bill Allegrezza's query on works that "will amaze, floor, shock, or impress".

Here are some lines that insisted I insert them in one of my own poems:

“my absence has been an exile from an exile”

“I am afraid of houses as tombs”

“…from neighbor to neighbor I shall cover the world”

“Half a bed makes a big house at night”

“There is always some cement on their bread”

“I drew flowers on a little box that I did not dare open, and I put it into the garbage.”

“Beirut is too busy to know the beauty of the sea”

And from Adnan's "To Be In A Time of War":

To say nothing, do nothing, mark time, to bend, to straighten up, to blame oneself, to stand, to go toward the window, to change one's mind in the process, to return to one's chair, to stand again, to go to the ballroom, to close the door, to then open the door, to go to the kitchen, to not eat or drink, to return to the table, to be bored, to take a few steps on the rug, to come close to the chimney, to look at it, to find it dull, to turn left to the main door, to come back to the room, to hesitate, to go on, just a bit, a trifle, to stop, to pull the right side of the curtain, then the other side, to stare at the wall.

And of course, the poem continues...mining the intersections between futility and resolve...