Author: Jessica Abughattas
Publisher: The University of Arkansas Press (2020)
Winner of the 2020 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, Jessica Abughattas’s Strip is a captivating debut about desire and dispossession and that tireless poetic metaphor—the body. Audacious and clear-eyed, plainspoken and brassy, Abughattas’s poems are songs that break free from confinement as they span the globe from Hollywood to Palestine.
“The mystery that Abughattas composes is always moving toward an impossible freeing of the self from its numerous frames. Yet frame by frame . . . she suspends our disbelief, catalogs those potentialities in an America always ready to shoot, direct, and produce the film of itself. Strip is ‘in love with possibility,’ ‘in praise of here I am, here I’ve been,’ USA style. Strip celebrates the body—its rise and fall, ebb and flow, in a carnival of parties—restlessly, shamelessly, searching for a way out…. Even as Abughattas claims that ‘I can’t believe sometimes I have a body,’ her poems teem with an awareness of the body’s unavoidable centrality in our lives—in how we view our lives, and how others view them; in how they progress, and how they end; in how they become meaningful, and how they are stripped of meaning. And no stripping escapes memory. Whether in terms of dispossession or sexuality, admiration or pity, Abughattas renders her treatment of the body with candor and poignancy. . . . The most startling moments in Abughattas’s poems, however, depend not on shocking or intimate details—but on the ‘I’ pulling away from the self, abandoning the ego, and gazing outward. She tries to see something else, to escape the body’s restraints.”
–Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara