POET OF THE WEEK: YOUSIF M. QASMIYEH
Posted on January 15 2021
Here's a sneak preview of our interview with Yousif M. Qasmiyeh. Join the Poetry Book Society today to read more in the Spring Bulletin.
"What might be seen as language is also its ever-enduring incompleteness wedged between the written and the oral as two furrows in the same field. In Baddawi refugee camp, my place of birth, writing becomes a process of injecting time with time: hunting down my illiterate mother’s words, either by retracing them in scattered fragments or by dismembering their original sites, as she recounts the multiply-recounted tales of tomorrow, and my father’s unpublished texts whose rhymes and imageries are those of an eternal child deprived of age and time... Paying particular attention to the incomplete, being, time, dwelling, camps, dialects, refugees, the body and the archive, Writing the Camp sits precisely on the threshold, clustering fragments with the unintentional integrity of a sequence. If I were to grant these fragments a name, I would say: they are poems, in the unorthodox sense, conceived in various times but also about different times in a refugee’s life, and about their afterlives and the discarded in living."
Yousif M. Qasmiyeh was born and educated in Baddawi refugee camp in North Lebanon. He is currently completing a DPhil on containment and the archive in ‘refugee writing’ at the University of Oxford’s English Faculty. Time, the body, and ruination inform his poetry and prose, which have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Stand, Critical Quarterly, GeoHumanities, Humanities, and Cambridge Literary Review. Yousif is Creative Encounters Editor of the Migration and Society journal, Writer-in-Residence of the Refugee Hosts research project, and Joint Lead of the Imagining Futures Baddawi Camp Lab.
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