Reviews in 200 Words

Zodiac of Echoes by Khaled Mattawa

In Poetry on September 28, 2009 at 11:55 pm


In a note at the end of this collection, Mattawa explains the title through the North African scholar, Ibn Shaqlouf’s, version of the astrological systems, saying that all prayers go up to the sun but that some “become detached” and then are free to “spin about the zodiac filling it with their echoes.” Mattawa’s collection is divided into 5 sections, which is also explained in the note: 5 planets, 5 kinds of prayer, 5 times of prayer per day. It all starts fits together even tighter than seems possible on first reading. The second section, “Vicinity (A Sequence)” redefines all that “relationship” can be: smells, sounds, tastes that force you into this contract you didn’t even know you were making. You’re in Cairo, Cleveland, Washington, and Texas. It’s not enough to let these things and these places roam around and bump into one another in your mind…the connections are deeper than roots or rivers or religion. Mattawa makes your mind throb with his wisdom and his vast concept of the sacred. He’s also not afraid to hold up a dirty picture, or even…a mirror. Mattawa puts the gems right in the filth, where they always live, The city growls, regurgitating its beliefs.

  1. Khaled Mattawa reads at DePauw University October 14 @ 7:30pm!

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