Maged Zaher

The Consequences of My Body by Maged Zaher is a series of untitled lines and prose paragraphs that (sometimes) appear to be letters (once to “Z,” others to “X” and “Y”). Thoughts on love are peppered throughout—“I am a descendent of ‘Udhri:’ Arab love poets”—and thoughts on poetry itself:

Donald Hall once proved that a poet’s poetry—if it is any good—must contradict the poet’s poetics. This is not a metaphysical statement: poetry, executed by humans in language, is more complex than poetics. (109)

We live in a great era: poets are utterly useless, which is a cause for joy. (108)

Maged Zaher was born in Cairo, Egypt, but now lives in Seattle. He is a poet completely new to me, but I’m registered for another Hugo House class (this time with Deborah Woodard) and Maged is one of four Seattle poets on our reading list. So I hope to get to know him better. I am even more hopeful that I will get to know my own humanity and my own potential better, by exploring his work. I often go to poetry to, well, calm the heck down. Maged Zaher is not that poet.

For now, I found an interview at Entrophy with Joe Milazzo, where The Consequences of My Body is called a conversation. Among other things, the interview made me return to a single page of the book that is not translated. And I loved this statement from Maged:

I wrote this whole book as an admission of my own lack of understanding — actually that is harsh — it is more like an attempt at an understanding of the word “love” — I know fear well — I know desire — I think I was just trying to explore love — so I am sincerely reading the book over and over to know what I found in the process of writing it.

I am entranced by this image of the poet rereading his own book “over and over,” “sincerely.”

So here is a poem. I’m thinking that he sometimes reminds me of Julio Cortazar. I’m looking forward to learning much more.

As I am cutting and pasting this loneliness
Onto your image
We lose the city
The strangers are the dawn breakers
And the insomniacs
Getting empty notifications
About their lovers
You are burdened with growing
Into a tall tree
And with flowers
And kindness
These piled books are mine
In them
I read
My silence

—Maged Zaher

 

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