Contact Marian at: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 210.859.7750
On Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home
“Marian Haddad writes with earthy elegance. Her poems are honest, striking, potently alive. The richly mixed gravitational pulls --- she was born of an immigrant Syrian family and raised in El Paso in the confluence of Texas, Mexico, and New Mexico --- create a savory brew of elements and images. ‘Take care of your body,’ an ailing relative urges his family. These tender/powerful poems urge us all, take care of your land and your love for one another. They are your blessing and your pain. Here is a magnetic voice charged like a lightning sky over desert mountains.”
---Naomi Shihab Nye, poet, essayist, anthologist
“Marian Haddad’s unique poetic voice speaks to me personally because it captures so many elements that are very dear to me: the desert Southwest, the crucible of family, health and its absence, the mysteries of the body, and borders both metaphorical and real. This is a wonderful collection that evokes all the senses and it lingers on after you have read the last poem.”
---Abraham Verghese, author of My Own Country and The Tennis Partner
“This is a moving portrait of a Syrian-American family that interrupts normal, stereotypical expectations. The book turns “identity” poetry on its ear: it’s not devoutly Muslim but devoutly Christian; it’s not mournful of the past but rather is fully embracing of the new world; not so much Syrian bread and ancient flavors but more homegrown Tex/Mex American. Using soft cadences and careful phrasing, Haddad writes in an autobiographical lyric voice.”
---Marilyn Chin, poet
Despite the reader’s initial thoughts about selecting favorites - - say, the life-embracing Part II “Somewhere between Mexico and a River Called Home” or the soaring “Transmountain Drive” or the memorable ones about your father - - it is the unrelenting focus on death and dying in “Nawal” [3rd section of book] that the reader cannot escape.
A word surgeon, you set about to cut so deeply into the memories of your sister and then your cousin it is a wonder that blood is not on the page.
Pain and death, birth and fruition, earth and body, family and food and flowers: they are constants in your personal kaleidoscope, and you turn them, turn them . . .
You wade among them, the family members, the family memories the way another wades in water.
And grief is a given. You are a grief sorcerer, and with the hammer of your grief you transmute love-and-grief into poems. Celebration is there too, yes, but subsumed in that pervasive, unforgettable grief.
---Elroy Bode, author of nine books of prose/sketches, including HOME COUNTRY and IN A SPECIAL LIGHT (forthcoming November 5, 2006 by Trinity University Press)
[excerpted from a personal letter from author]
Throughout Haddad’s poetry the word bear recurs disparately from start to finish. It acts as a character, a reflection of self . . . Contained within Haddad’s words are the unmistakable blessings naturally bestowed to women and symbolism of the unconscious mind --- here again the bear is the sum of strength, leadership, and protector of family. It serves as spiritual warrior.
Haddad . . . connects herself to dreams. Finding within this connection introspection and meditation; a celestial allegory that finds balance and strength. A strength that is necessary for the life actions of indefinitely repeated cycles of birth, love, and death.
--- Becoming: The Underground Journal
[excerpted from a review on their site]
. . . I find most powerful the poems you wrote about your mother, father, and deceased sister. I so admire your courage --- you dove right into the maelstrom of estrangement, the deaths of significant others, and the aftermath, and you did so with an emotional honesty which is extremely rare . . . I particularly admire the simplicity of your language --- it bestows all you have to say with power and haunting directness. What’s more important is that you emerge from your losses with the strength to live out fully the rest of your miraculous days, realizing the ephemeral beauty and mystery, while at the same time harboring your memories of the deceased. I like the way your book flows --- it has a nice “logic” all its own --- and your sections move seamlessly one into another. Your imagery . . . the bread, numerous allusions to fruit and fecundity, the clay --- as if you wrote the human body with its very own blood and bone.
--- Larry D. Thomas, poet
[excerpted from personal letter from poet]
I was moved to tears, to laughter, and to a deep contemplation about my own childhood and to my own failure to communicate at times with my mother . . . I think it is important for a writer to go back to his or her roots, and you have done that . . . I appreciated the manner in which you handled the topics of death, aging, illnesses, and even funerals. I was really moved by the scene in which you described your father becoming a child in your arms. Your language is poetic, descriptive and honest. And most importantly, accessible. I love the narrative quality also . . .the mixture of prose and poetry in your book. It was so real and so honest.
---Jim Brandenburg, poet, educator, facilitator for San Antonio Poets’ Society
Did you ever read a novel and so love the writing and the characters that when you were finished you felt very sad because there was nothing left to read? Even though you knew you could read it over again, it wasn't quite the same as the first reading. That's how I feel right now. This is a book of poems that I know I will read again and again. There are poems by certain poets that I read more than once, but never a whole book. And to think I might not have picked it up!
Linda Ann Schofield
Retired High School Library/Media Specialist/Poet
Dear Marian: At last I’ve been able to return to your book. I was away with my daughter for the weekend, and one of my joys was sitting down with you — what a presence your work is! You feel so profoundly and express yourself with a full-throated lyric voice. Power, sentiment, generosity — these enrich your poetry as they must surely enrich your life and the existence of those around you. I wish I could have read “Reverence” to my own mother. Ah — and your dear, beloved sister Nawal — how amazing your utterance of such unspeakable sorrow. Naomi was not being hyperbolic when she wrote of your “magnetic voice charged like a lightning sky over desert mountains.” And the thunder is there too. Blessings on you and your precious work. I am grateful for it and so happy to know we share the same time on this planet.
With love, D. H.
---From a personal letter received from D.H. Melhem, Poet>
On Saturn Falling Down
“Saturn is a teacher of restraint, courage, self-discipline. The balky student will be tested with sorrow, delay, limitation. Saturn descends to give us pause to think things over, return to our starting place. Marian Haddad’s poems are not only sensual and rooted in familial power, they are Saturnian in their willingness to teach, their ability to awaken the reader to the mystery and holiness of life. Like the poems of W.S. Merwin and Lucie Brock-Broido, they are infused with biblical, numerological, and transformative power.
---Jan Lee Ande, poet
“These poems by Marian Haddad are rivers of rhythm, ‘the sound stars make if you listen.’ You will feel the rhythms of heartbeat, bonebeat, skybeat, currents that bind woman to self, family, the ocean and the sky. Haddad uncovers the shining miracles of daily existence.”
---Cyra Dumitru, poet & publisher River Lily Press
“Drawing on mythologies from both sides of her world, Syria and West Texas, Haddad’s poems spring from a watery womb into a dessicated world. Adopting the persona of Saturn, she is instructed by a cosmic mother to bear children (poems) who will ‘swim like truth around [her] sphere.’ In another ancient voice, that of Cypress, Daughter of Fertility, she promises to ‘teach you to balance / water on your left shoulder.’ There are powerful images in this deeply female poetry that indeed ‘swim like truth’ past barriers of time and geography."
---Bryce Milligan, poet & publisher Wings Press