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  The Rebirth Issue
No. 18, Summer 2009

front cover

In Celebration of Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary
Arab American Poetry

      Arab American poets, writers and artists growing up in the richly mixed, savory (and often complicated) atmospheres of our interweaving worlds, could probably function just fine without feeling a sense of mysterious obligation, a kind of collective calling accompanying what we do. But somehow it has become also our unstated job to keep underscoring humanity every way we can, shining little lights into the realities of lives, conditions, conflicts...because the big news has been so faceless, so grim, and people hunger for the deeper knowing and understanding which art and literature offer.

      This attempt-to-balance, this devotion to revelation and connection is one the current writers and artists of the community are quite well suited for—they have the necessary gifts and energies. Good thing—I think the world is going to keep asking them questions and looking to them for some larger story—deeper and more timeless than all the hopping hype and tragedies of violence. It has been my conviction for some time that every act of violence, whether sanctioned or unsanctioned, is a betrayal of language—as writers and students and teachers, we believe in language. 

      This March, when President Obama spoke on video to the citizens and leaders of Iran, expressing, among other things, a gratitude for all the inspired culture emanating for centuries from that country, it seemed a crucial and necessary moment. A spirit of gratitude and acknowledgment, a shared discovery and mutual respect, is what artists keep trying to invoke, from everywhere, all the time.

                                     Naomi Shihab Nye

July 2009


Walid Bitar

The Good Reason

Exact Change


Margin of Error

Over the Rainbow

Hayan Charara

In a Perfect World

Family Portrait

23,627 Miles


Starved Dogs Eating Snow


Mahmoud Darwish

Be a String to My Guitar

In Exodus
I Love You More

I Want from Love
Only the Beginning

Fady Joudah




Assef Al-Jundi


Mary's Pearls

In the Dark

In this Cube

A Meditation in Black and Light

Lisa Suhair Majaj

First Year




Adele Ne Jame

Leaving Moorea

Work and the Gift of Opium

Mapping for Oil from the Air in Venezuela

Leaving Beckett Point, Port Townsend

When Love Is So Far Away


Deema Shehabi

Flight Over Water

Light in the Orchard

Animals: On the Role of the Poet in a Country at War by Hayan Charara
In Celebration of Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry by Naomi Shihab Nye