Arabology Interviews Arab American Poet/Stanford Student Maya Salameh

Listen to the interview at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/mayasalameh

Recorded in February 2019 at KZSU 90.1 FM (Stanford University)

Stanford Lecturer + Arabology radio host Dr. Ramzi Salti interviews Arab American poet Maya Salameh, a full time student at Stanford, who recites her poem "My Other Mouth," forthcoming in The Greensboro Review.

Listen to the interview below or at https://soundcloud.com/arabology/mayasalameh



Read the poem below ©Maya Salameh ©The Greensboro Review

my other mouth //


if you ask me if I am fluent in Arabic / I will speak

of mispronunciation / I will tell you of the vast spaces / between

letters / I will tell you / my Arabic is words / wracked with labor

pains / village / in the pads of your feet / the roots of verbs / I conjugate

the hooked nose / the unruly hair / the holy in me /

if you ask me if I am fluent in Arabic / I will tell you / my Arabic / wonders how torture tastes on the tongue / I will tell you / I have known words like /

go & bitch & home & brown /

if you ask me I will tell you / my Arabic fell in love / with

a couple tongues / who never loved it back / my

Arabic / is a voice full of seashells / has birthed cities / men / empires / if you ask me / if I am fluent in Arabic / I will tell you about

gradations of skin color / I will say / I am more parts storm / than organs /

if you ask me I will tell you / I don’t know how to translate

purpose / from my mother tongue / but my Arabic

loves like mint / in stalks & leaves /

is a mouthful of holy water / the splintering of ships / the crucifix / on my grandfather’s wrist / if you ask me if I am fluent /

I will answer / I take my canines out

with my earrings every night / I inventory

my edible parts / I will answer / I am not a pretty girl /

if you ask me I will tell you / I am not a pretty girl /

but my Arabic is beautiful / I have caught glimpses / the rolled r’s running through

my wrists / the calligraphy of my coastline shoulders / the forgotten

syntax of my full lips / if you ask me if I am fluent

I will tell you / I am a poet / & a poet /

owes a language her tongue / hands / toes /

I will say / before its arrival / the world was prose /

if you ask me if I am fluent I will confess / my Arabic is

poetry / & in a certain quarter of the city / on such & street / I will be remembered / as the one whose stories ate her alive / whose poetry

gutted her / in slashes of five / seven / five /

I will remind you / I have always fallen in love

too easily / I will tell you / the only language I know /

is moments of misspeaking / I diplomat my teeth /

I constellation my stammer /

if you ask me if I am fluent / I will say / a language / is just

the stars / forgetting their grammar.

©Maya Salameh ©The Greensboro Review

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