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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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Upcoming Events

"New and Known: Poetic Forms and Traditions" with Khaled Mattawa (FUGITIVE ATLAS), Mark Wunderlich (GOD OF NOTHINGNESS), Diane Seuss (FRANK), and Roy G. Guzmán (CATRACHOS), presented by the AWP Conference

AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) in College Park, MDview map
Five brilliant poets, published by Graywolf Press, discuss traditional and innovative forms within their recent collections and the work of others. Whether negotiating nations’ borders through a poem’s constraints, integrating formal techniques of disparate geographic origins, or bending—and breaking—the rules of received forms, these poets examine the ways in which poems’ containers can be vessels for the psychological and political, complicating the cultural resonances of their traditions. Moderated by Graywolf Press Editor Chantz Erolin. Click here for more information and to register for the AWP Conference


  • “In poems that tenderly call us to action, Mattawa awakens readers to the human and geographical devastation wrought by the tendency to “other” people. Fugitive Atlas is a collaborative prayer for a shattered earth.”Ploughshares
  • “[A] melodious collection. . . . [Khaled Mattawa] becomes a cartographer of reality across many countries, poetic landscapes, and styles. In a series of imaginative and provocative poems, he asks us to consider the borders — at times government ordained, at times personally, financially, and culturally imposed — that exist off the map and apply meaning to our real lives.”Chapter16
  • “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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