Tocqueville for the Win!

Congratulations to Khaled Mattawa whose book Tocqueville (New Issues, 2010) was just selected by Ravi Shankar for the prestigious Poetry Center Book Award by the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University. If you're in the Bay Area, consider attending Khaled's reading as SFSU on March 29th. Here's a link to more info on the reading.

Here's an excerpt from Shankar's statement on Tocqueville and a link to read it in its entirety, which I hope you will do:
As Alexis de Tocqueville, referenced in Mattawa’s title, has written, "history is a gallery of pictures in which there are few originals and many copies." Mattawa's book is one of these true originals that substantially deepens our notion of what a poem can do and what shape it might take.... This is a book of extraordinary courage, that helps give voice to the voiceless and that sees, even in those we would demonize as terrorists, a shared destiny. For all of its ambition, innovation, and empathy, Khaled Mattawa's Toqueville is a stunning collection of verse that by utilizing the tools of modernity helps us construe where we are, how we arrived, and where we can go from here.


Ecclesiastes


The trick is that you're willing to help them.
The rule is to sound like you're doing them a favor.

The rule is to create a commission system.
The trick is to get their number.

The trick is to make it personal:
No one in the world suffers like you.

The trick is that you're providing a service.
The rule is to keep the conversation going.

The rule is their parents were foolish,
their children are greedy or insane.

The rule is to make them feel they've come too late.
The trick is that you're willing to make exceptions.

The rule is to assume their parents abused them.
The trick is to sound like the one teacher they loved.

And when they say "too much,"
give them a plan.

And when they say "anger" or "rage" or "love,"
say "give me an example."

The rule is everyone is a gypsy now.
Everyone is searching for his tribe.

The rule is you don't care if they ever find it.
The trick is that they feel they can.


Khaled Mattawa
from Tocqueville




Other poems by Khaled Mattawa posted @ Against Oblivion:

"Growing Up with a Sears Catalog in Benghazi, Libya"
"Echo & Elixer 2"
"Corpus Christi"