In Tunsiya/Amrikiya, emerging Tunisian-American poet Leila Chatti explores the nuances of multicultural identity, the necessity of family, and the perennial search for belonging. From vantage points on both sides of the Atlantic, Chatti investigates the perpetual exile that comes from always being separated from some essential part of oneself.
“Tunsiya is Arabic for Tunisian/female, and Amrikiya is Arabic for American/female. This naming makes a cross of empowerment even as it is it requires great effort to bear it. Muslim female power is real and undeniable in these
coming of age poems. In this collection, arcs spark between Tunisian and American citizenship, male and female duality, sky and earth, and yes and no. This is one of the punchiest and powerful chapbooks to appear in recent years. Leila Chatti is someone to watch.” —JOY HARJO
“I marvel at Leila Chatti’s poems, their deceptive ease, their ‘calligraphy of smoke,’ their luminous concern with identity and self, love and family, her aesthetic command. ‘I orbited the town of my origin.’ She writes an America that belongs to the world, not the other way around. ‘What kind of world will we leave/ for our mothers?’ In poems filled with vision, desire, tenderness, she disarms our most guarded partialities, those we hide in our slumber, or deep under our tongues: ‘a Muslim girl who loved her father’; ‘ghost of a word mixed up with our bodies.’ Leila Chatti is a remarkable poet. Take notice.” —FADY JOUDAH
“Leila Chatti is a major star. She writes exquisite, indelible, necessary poems, from two worlds mixing, rich as the threads of finest tapestries— glistening, warm. I’m struck by her vibrant sense of detail and perfect pacing. We need her honest, compassionate voice so much, at this moment, and everywhere.”
—NAOMI SHIHAB NYE