Passage Series #5
Softcover, 176 pages, 5.12 x 7.8 inches
Design by Rissa Hochberger
Printed in Italy
Edition of 1,000
About the book
Kamelya Omayma Youssef’s A book with a hole in it uses the poetry of the fragment and the language of everyday survival to gesture towards the fallibility of language at the juncture of the multiple, intersecting wars on women, on "terror," on the non-White body, and on people and language in diaspora. Drawn from a set of journals written over a four-month period, A book with a hole in it throws the formal, official work of poetry into relief, asking what knowledge exists beyond knowledge, which silences are too deep to be surfaced on the page, and how to pierce through trauma and violence to approach a politics of redemption.
Kamelya Omayma Youssef's A book with a hole in it is the 2020 Carolyn Bush Award recipient.
About the author
Kamelya Omayma Youssef is a writer from Dearborn, Michigan, with roots in Jibbayn and Shmistar, Lebanon. With an MA in English from Wayne State University and an MFA in Poetry from New York University, she currently teaches poetry at the City College of New York, edits poetry manuscripts, and co-facilitates Habibi Futurism, a generative workshop for collective futurist imaginings.
It is so refreshing to encounter a first book as daring, original as Kamelya Omayma Youssef's A book with a hole in it. Youssef’s poems are formally supple enough to slip from visual dream poems into odic dialogues with titans like Simone Weil, Etel Adnan, and Walter Benjamin. Radical enough to assert, “I am here to enjoy my joy”; to shout and praise, plainly: “And and and and. Palestine! All of us. Hamdillah.” I’m such a grateful student of this work.
What is love for a woman outside of patriarchy? What is life for an Arab outside of white supremacy? Kamelya Omayma Youssef's poetry surveils all that stands in the way of liberation and offers a challenge and a manifesto at once. "Leap, imagine, and act accordingly." she entreats. And what wondrous liberation that way lies. Here is a brave voice, guiding and mesmerizing in its vulnerability and power. Listen and leap!
A book with a hole in it is reading as good as thinking. Lines stop 'cause they’re too full, don’t want to say any more, and even in silence the interior is just bursting, the book is so rich. It leads out, proudly, though it pauses first.
This beguiling, genre-resistant book of fragments is a black hole of beauty, in which Kamelya Omayma Youssef ever so gently reveals to us, among other things, how to make language tell a painful story that can never be told. The Arabic of her unconscious glimmers so enchantingly through the lines, and not only from right to left, taking us way beyond the periods, to the wondrous spaces where she alone can go.