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Book review: My name on his tongue

my name on his tongue…Until I found 
That Home
Is inside
Not out
That the view changes 
Where I sit
Which window
I look out of

Mixed blood 
Is like an old trailer 
that’s always frowned at
Because no matter where 
It’s parked
It’s always 
Out of place…”

Laila Halaby was born in Bierut, Lebanon, to a Jordanian father and an American Mother. She speaks four languages, won a Fulbright scholarship to study folklore in Jordan, and holds a master’s degree in Arabic language. In addition to writing novels, Halaby also write poetry and children’s fiction. My name on his tongue is a book of poetry where Halaby addresses the issues of identity, belonging, race, war, childhood, motherhood and friendship.

Halaby’s genius comes through in her seamless ability to transfer the reader into her world without the reader necessarily possessing a knowledge of her past. Each poem is self-sufficient, clear and personal.

The book is divided into four parts viewed from Halaby’s perspective: as a tourist, a child, an exile, and an opponent of war in the middle east. At the end of the book, Halaby includes a letter she posted to the new elected president, Barack Obama, identifying with him by touching on their similarities (both mixed race) and urging Obama to consider the plight of the Palestinians in Gaza.

I rarely read a large collection of poetry by one single authour as I am accustomed to purchase poetry books which are more dominated by themes than one single authour’s experience and Journey. Halaby’s book was a delightful experience into understanding her struggles and thoughts of her own cultural identity; one which I can relate. A must read for lovers of poetry, and her use of imagery and punctual words awaken the world which Halaby details in the mind of the reader. She inspired me to write two of my own poems: My new home and Why don't we sit outside, (click on the title to view).

“Arabs maybe under suspicion
But now we are interesting too
It is time for our voice to be a part of America’s ethnic fiction….”

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