Author Event: What to Count by Alise Alousi
We are so excited to have Alise Alousi together with Kweku Ambibola, author of Saltwater Demands a Psalm: Poems.
About What to Count
A lyrical exploration into the personal and political conflicts and identities that frame a life.With heart and insight, the poems in Alise Alousi's What to Count speak to what it means to come of age as an Iraqi American during the first Gulf War and its continuing aftermath, but also to the joy and complexity of motherhood, daughterhood, and what it means to live a creative life.
More than a description of the world, Alousi's poetry actively lives in and of the world. These poems explore the nuances of memory through the changes wrought by time, conflict, and distance. In "The Ocularist" and "Art," and others, Alousi's extraordinary verbal deftness precisely locates the still-tender pains and triumphs of collective being while trying to be an individual in the world. What to Count is a remarkable collection of contemporary poetry-both a lyrical splendor and a contemplative account of lineage, silenced history, and identity.
About Alise Alousi
Alise Alousi is a 2019 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow and has received awards from Knight Arts Detroit, Mesa Refuge, and others. Her work has been widely anthologized including in the collections To Light a Fire: 20 Years with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project, Abandon Automobile: Detroit City Poetry (both Wayne State University Press) and Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry. She works at InsideOut Literary Arts and has been an active part of the literary arts in metro Detroit for many years. She currently serves on the steering committee for Room Project, a workspace for women and nonbinary writers in Detroit and teaches poetry to teens at the Arab American National Museum.
About Saltwater Demands a Psalm: Poems
In Ghana's Akan tradition, on the eighth day of life a child is named according to the day of the week on which they were born. This marks their true birth. In Kweku Abimbola's rhapsodic debut, Saltwater Demands a Psalm: Poems, the intimacy of this practice yields an intricately layered poetics of time and body based in Black possibility, ancestry, and joy. While odes and praise songs celebrate rituals of self- and collective-care--of durags, stank faces, and dance--Abimbola's elegies imagine alternate lives and afterlives for those slain by police, returning to naming as a means of rebirth and reconnection following the lost understanding of time and space that accompanies Black death. Saltwater Demands a Psalm creates a cosmology in search of Black eternity governed by Adinkra symbols--pictographs central to Ghanaian language and culture in their proverbial meanings--and rooted in units of time created from the rhythms of Black life.These poems groove, remix, and recenter African language and spiritual practice to rejoice in liberation's struggles and triumphs. Abimbola's poetry invokes the ecstasy and sorrow of saying the names of the departed, of seeing and being seen, of being called and calling back.
About Kweku Ambibola
Kweku Abimbola earned his MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program. His work has been published or is forthcoming in Shade Literary Arts, 20.35 Africa, The Common, and elsewhere. He lives in Detroit, Michigan.