Winner of the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize
Poet Zeina Hashem Beck’s timely collection Louder Than Hearts shakes the reader awake and reminds us of poetry’s power to bridge culture and language, putting words to the unsayable happening all around us. They act as both a slap and a salve for dealing with the tragic events that have become the everyday.
I don’t know how Zeina Hashem Beck is able to do this. Her poems feel like whole worlds—potent conversations with the self, the soul, the many landscapes of being, and the news that confounds us all. They weave two languages into a perfect fabric of presence, with an almost mystical sense of pacing and power. “You Fixed It” might be one of the masterpieces of our time. There is death, loss, disaster, but more importantly, an exquisite sense of reviving language and poetry—anthems of life, love, respect, abounding. Everything Arabic we treasure comes alive in these poems. Readers will feel restored to so many homes, revived, amazed. Zeina Hashem Beck writes with a brilliant, absolutely essential voice.
Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet with a BA and an MA in English Literature from the American University of Beirut. Her first collection, To Live in Autumn, won the 2014 Backwaters Prize. It was also runnner-up for the 2014 Julie Suk Award, category finalist for the 2015 Eric Hoffer Awards, and has been included on Split This Rock’s list of recommended poetry books for 2014. Her chapbook, 3arabi Song, won the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize; it was selected from 1720 submissions. Another chapbook, There Was and How Much There Was, was a 2016 Laureate’s Choice, chosen by Britain’s Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, and published by smith|doorstop. Her second full-length collection, Louder than Hearts, has won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize.
Zeina’s work has won Best of the Net and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Forward Prize. Her poetry has been featured on Poetry Daily and Inpress Books’s Poem of the Week, and has appeared widely in literary magazines, among which are Ploughshares, Poetry, The Rialto, World Literature Today, River Styx, Boulevard, Ambit, and Poetry Northwest.
Zeina lives with her husband and two daughters in Dubai, where she has founded and hosts a Dubai-based open mic night called PUNCH. Her readings have a strong performative quality, and she performs her poetry both in the Middle East and internationally.