Khaled Mattawa
Poet & Translator
Ann Arbor, MI
2010 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Ford Foundation

Born and raised in Benghazi, Libya, poet Khaled Mattawa relocated to the United States as a teenager in 1979. He earned a BA in political science and economics from the University of Tennessee, an MA and an MFA from Indiana University, and a PhD from Duke University.

Mattawa has published several collections of poetry, including Tocqueville(2010), Amorisco (2008), Zodiac of Echoes (2003), and Ismailia Eclipse (1995). He has translated numerous volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry, including Adonis’s Concerto al-Quds (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)(2017), Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems of Amjad Nasser (2009), and Miracle Maker: Selected Poems of Fadhil Al-Azzawi (2004), in addition to coediting the anthologies Dinarzad’s Children: An Anthology of Arab American Fiction (2004) and Post Gibran: Anthology of New Arab American Writing(1999). His own work has been widely anthologized as well.

Mattawa has been awarded several Pushcart Prizes and the PEN Award for Literary Translation, in addition to a translation grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Alfred Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, and a MacArthur fellowship.

The editor of Michigan Quarterly Review, he has taught at Indiana University; California State University, Northridge; and the University of Michigan.


Bedtime Reading for the Unborn Child

Long after the sun falls into the sea
and twilight slips off the horizon like a velvet sheet
and the air gets soaked in blackness;
long after clouds hover above like boulders
and stars crawl up and stud the sky;
long after bodies tangle, dance, and falter
and fatigue blows in and bends them
and sleep unloads its dreams and kneads them
and sleepers dive into the rivers inside them,
a girl unlatches a window,
walks shoeless into a forest,
her dark hair a flag rippling in darkness.