Moving from Paris to Beirut and back, Calligraphies is a tribute to exiles and refugees, the known and unknown, dead and living, from the American poet Marie Ponsot to the Syrian pasionaria Fadwa Suleiman. Award-winning poet Marilyn Hacker finds resistance, wit, potential, and gleaming connection in everyday moments—a lunch of “standing near the fridge with / labneh, two verbs, and a spoon”—as a counterweight to the precarity of existence.
With signature passion and agility, Hacker draws from French, Arabic, and English to probe the role of language in identity and revolution. Amid conversations in smoky cafes, personal mourning, and political turmoil, she traces the lines between exiles and expats, immigrants and refugees. A series of “Montpeyroux Sonnets” bookends the volume, cataloguing months in 2021 and 2022 in which the poet observes a village “in pandemic mode” and reflects on her own aging.
In a variety of tones and formal registers, from vivid crowns of sonnets to insistent ghazals to elegiac pantoums and riffs on the renga, Calligraphies explores a world opened up by language.