If I Lose My Voice Open Access

Bakdash, Talah (Spring 2019)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/3x816n64f?locale=en


If I Lose My Voice is my attempt at navigating the space between what it means to be American and Syrian, specifically in the midst of the Syrian war. This space is abstract and isolating, so these poems work to ground my identity in things that are more concrete: the body, food, music, flowers…and that do not fall under the clichéd images of Arab culture (i.e. the desert, tea, and the call to prayer). Materializing the gap between two countries creates a home of the things around me rather than a specific location. This, in turn, helps me answer the following questions: What does it mean to live between two cultures? Has language helped to bridge that gap or widen it? Is there a culture I identify more with? How can I actively engage with a culture to ensure it won’t be lost over time? How can I be nationalistic for a country I’ve only visited, and what does it mean to lose that country to war? What is my place in mourning for that country when I am in the privileged position of not being physically hurt by that war? To help me write through those questions, I turn to a variety of writers who are exclusively Arab (i.e. Adonis), American (i.e. Carolyn Forchè), and Arab-American (i.e. Fady Joudah).

Table of Contents

Small Talk                                                                                                                                        1

When They Ask You: How Do You Speak English So Good?                                          3

Remedy                                                                                                                                            4

When They Ask You: How Do You Pronounce Your Name?                                                 5

Ghazal to the Heart                                                                                                                       6

Arabic Music Videos                                                                                                                     7

Tabbouleh                                                                                                                                       8

Jasmine                                                                                                                                           10

Myopic                                                                                                                                 14

Summer Every Winter                                                                                                                 15

Dive                                                                                                                                                 16

When They Ask You: Do You Shower in That?                                                                       17

Thanksgiving                                                                                                                                 18

Ramadan                                                                                                                                        19

Genealogy                                                                                                                                      20

Duplex: Wedding Ululations                                                                                                      21

Love in Arabic                                                                                                                               22

Photographs of Our Apartment, Destroyed                                                                            27

Recovery                                                                                                                                         29

Exits                                                                                                                                                30

When They Ask You: Where Are You From?                                                                          31

Notes                                                                                                                                              32

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