ajnabieh: Sign for a store reading "Hot Chick." (hot chick)
This was my second year as a reviewer for the Arab American Book Awards, administered by the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn. Both years, I've served on the poetry committee, which means I've gotten to read a variety of really lovely poetry by contemporary Arab American poets. This year's winners have just been announced; if you like poetry, I can highly recommend both the winner and the runner up. They're very different books; Hala Alyan's Atrium is full of poems that are sharp and swift, with lovely jogs of language and incredibly piercing moments of emotion, by a new, young-ish poet. Etel Adnan's Sea and Fog, on the other hand, is two long prose-poems, with rolling language that pours over you, written by one of the great Arab-American authors of our period. Many of its phrases have stuck with me, and I found myself having to stop and take a breath quite frequently reading it--just as one does when swimming in the ocean. They were very different poetry-reading experiences, but both fabulous.

I was planning on finishing this post by offering to send some of the many, many books of Arab-American poetry I've picked up from reading for this prize to anyone who wants one...and then I discovered I've packed them already. Nonetheless! If you think you'd like a book of modern poetry sent to you in the mail in August, once I've unpacked, drop a comment here, and I'll PM you for your address once I've found them in the great un-box-en-ing. There isn't a one that I've read for the prize that I wouldn't recommend to a poetry-loving friend...like y'all.


Jun. 20th, 2013 04:11 pm
ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (marxist feminist)
My family is preparing for a move (yes, that does mean there's job news--no, I can't tell you yet, because I'm being paranoid about wanting a physical contract in my actual hands with relevant signatures, and university bureaucracies do not excel at doing that quickly), so I'm cleaning out a bunch of stuff. Some of this is tedious, like wading through every shirt I own and deciding which are keepers, which are in good enough condition to be sold or donated, and which are in such terrible shape they need to go to the fabric recycling. Some of them are stunningly productive, like reading through the back issues of all those journals that have been piling up around my house, and entering citations for useful things into relevant folders. And some of them are just weird.

In the weird category goes this one: I've mailed off a huge box of stuff to the Library & Resource Center at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, MI. I've been increasingly involved with the Museum since 2011, when I visited for the first time to attend a conference, and ended up volunteering for the Arab American Book Awards. I had two large boxes of newspapers, flyers, chant sheets from protests, and other assorted pieces of paper sitting in the corner of my wife's office left over from my dissertation research, because, like a good researcher, I saved everything. But it was time to shed some weight. So I went through, sorted it into piles, and dropped it in the mail to their archivist, Liz Skene.

The weird thing about this is twofold. On the one hand, it really means I'm done with my dissertation. I mean, sure, I've got to get the book out, but that's a matter of revision; by sending these documents away, it means I'm not going to sit around and translate those newspaper articles, I'm not going to perform an elaborate reading on the graphics on that poster, I'm not going to do any of those things. I'm closing that door, and turning to the next one, to see what it's got in it.

The other weird thing here is that it presupposes that what I've got is meaningful. There's someone out there, in the world, who might want to look at these documents later. Some other scholar might get something useful out of them. That seems terribly self-aggrandizing and self-important. And yet, it's also part of how the historical record is made: what gets put into archives, shoved into boxes in attics, passed down from generation to generation is how we figure out what happened at previous points in time. If, fifty years from now, someone wants to do research on how the Arab community in Brooklyn has grown or changed over time, those two file boxes of papers will be invaluable data.

I both want to claim that my work is important enough to do this--that it's worth publishing, that my primary sources are worth looking at, that there's unexplored data in there--and I feel the tiniest bit imposter-syndrome about it. But I pushed through that. And now there are some boxes in Dearborn with my name on them.

And that's a little awesome.

Fellow researchers, have you ever sent some of your documents and data to an archive? How did you choose what to do, or where to send it? (For instance, none of my fieldnotes went, because they contain people's legal names, and I'd want to obscure them before archiving; I would have liked to archive my papers in NYC, but the AANM is a dedicated thematic archive, and I think that gives them a better chance of being found by an interested party in the future.) Have you ever used archived data and been either glad it was there, or pissed off that All The Wrong Things Get Saved?


ajnabieh: The text "My Marxist feminist dialective brings all the boys to the yard."   (Default)
Ajnabieh - The Foreigner

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