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A Controlled Burn of Memory
Date of Review: 
May.01.2010
Published Work: 
Reviewer: 
Mohja Kahf
Source: 
Banipal: Magazine of Modern Arab Literature

Majaj’s imagery is thick with vegetation, not just the figs we expect in Arab American poetry and the olive trees that are such symbols for Palestinian poetry, but asphodels and knotted fruit and American farmscapes and the gold-leaf of New England autumns— the latter linked startlingly to the fires of Beirut under siege in “Seasons of Gold, Seasons of Fire.” This organic loam makes her sorrowing tones rich with redemption, like fresh green shoots on the dead stump of a deceased uncle’s lemon tree (“In Season”).We feel the presence of the elder generation in Majaj’s ghosts, grief, and graves, but Majaj’s gratitude makes of this presence a gift, as in the childhood poem “Stone Fence”: “From how many lives? I build myself up as I go.” 

Poetry books by Lisa Suhair Majaj and Sharif Elmusa