How the Water Holds Me by Tariq Luthun


by Tariq Luthun

Editors’ Selection from the 2019 Frost Place Chapbook Competition

release date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949344-13-4
Softcover, 41 pages.

also available as eBook


Both a reckoning and a reclamation, How the Water Holds Me surveys movements through diaspora, dissecting displacement, mortality, responsibility, and masculinity. With deft narrative and rich imagery, Tariq Luthun’s collection of poems makes space for everyone, from Gaza to Detroit, asking us to reassess the notion of belonging, and to do something meaningful with these revelations. How the Water Holds Me invites each of us to explore what it means to seek—and share—refuge.

“Tariq Luthun has done something wondrous in his chapbook How the Water Holds Me, a striking, poignant look at identity, war, ancestry, and dislocation. His writing is dynamic and elegant, with an eye for devastating questions: ‘How ever/will we live long enough to grieve?’ Palestine glints within these pieces like a jewel, the context for explorations of family, of self, of home. ‘Each of us needs a place/to return to,’ he observes, later confessing, ‘And I pray/for everything/that has not tried/to kill me.’ Amen.”
—Hala Alyan, author of The Twenty-Ninth Year

“Tariq Luthun’s How the Water Holds Me stakes a homeland on the boundaries between the domestic and the diasporic; Palestine and Detroit; feast and fast; the erotic and the ecstatic. Take note of the deft attention to music, ‘When piqued, boys be a bone. / Be a tantrum, a cracked tomb…’; of well-wrought lines like, ‘When i meet my mother, / i talk to her like a man / talks to himself….’ These are unsparing poems of the body and the body politic. Lean closer and listen to this American son calling from, calling to, and calling out America. No, this is the yawp we were promised.”
—Tommye Blount, author of Fantasia for the Man in Blue

“Tariq Luthun’s poems are vulnerable confessions and whispered conversations about becoming, and continuing to become, a young man, a Palestinian, an immigrant, a witness, and a fighter.”
—Noura Erakat, author of Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine

“What a chilling collection where each poem is a home one longs to return to, a belonging and also an unrequited farewell. This collection is a beautiful ode to the wading that happens in distance, the dear grasp of the hold and the survival of letting go.”
—Aja Monet, author of My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter

Read a sample poem:


I should have asked how our khalto was holding
up, but I knew where she would be: her body

weary & unkind, buried in the day’s tasks; back turned
to the home she grew up in; seeds in the

farm‘s soil, like miracles, sprouting as
she tends to them. Is this not always the case?

Child upon child goes, and someone’s mother
is no longer a mother. My aunt — a mother herself — looks,

for a moment, away; nothing she plants has roots
long enough to hold. She turns back anyway, looks

ahead. If we are too caught up in the end — like boys
fleeing from the day’s news — eyes worried

about that which we cannot control,
how ever will we stay fed? How ever

will we live long enough to grieve?

Additional information

Weight .25 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 × .25 in


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