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Fugitive Atlas

Khaled Mattawa

we have                                                  after
                        children                          the
                        born here                       sea
now                                                         still
                         at night we                     at
                         watch them                    sea
to learn                                                    under
                         from their                       the
                         breathing                       sea

—“Afterward Breathing” 



Fugitive Atlas is a sweeping, impassioned account of refugee crises, military occupations, and ecological degradation, an acute and probing journey through a world in upheaval. Khaled Mattawa’s chorus of speakers finds moments of profound solace in searching for those lost—in elegy and prayer—even when the power of poetry and faith seems incapable of providing salvation.

With extraordinary formal virtuosity and global scope, these poems turn not to lament for those regions charted as theaters of exploitation and environmental malpractice but to a poignant amplification of the lives, dreams, and families that exist within them. In this exquisite collection, Mattawa asks how we are expected to endure our times, how we inherit the journeys of our ancestors, and how we let loose those we love into an unpredictable world.

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Khaled Mattawa’s poetry contains “the complexity of a transnational identity” (MacArthur Fellowship citation)

About the Author

Khaled  Mattawa
Credit: Khairy Shaban
Khaled Mattawa is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Tocqueville, and is the translator of nine books of contemporary Arabic poetry, including Saadi Youssef's Without an Alphabet, Without a Face.
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  • “Khaled Mattawa is a master. How do his poems sear and soothe, so brilliantly, at once? He voyages in the realms of the unspeakable and speaks for us all.”—Naomi Shihab Nye
  • “Khaled Mattawa’s Fugitive Atlas is astonishing. It would be a standout book of poetry for any generation, and it is much more. . . . No book by anyone in any genre I can think of gets at this regional and global tragedy as this book does—from the conflicted inside.”—William Olsen
  • “These are poems of exceptionally real human and political consequence, filled with news that the news does not speak. Khaled Mattawa’s Fugitive Atlas is a work of uncommon, poignant character, of resonance and depth.”—Alberto Ríos
  • “Fiercely principled and faithful to a revelatory wildness of mind. . . . Fugitive Atlas arrives with an embodied sense of spiritual purpose unlike any collection of poetry I have recently encountered.”—Major Jackson
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