Tunsiya/Amrikiya by Leila Chatti


by Leila Chatti

ISBN: 978-1-4951-7877-1
softcover, 33 pages

editors’ selection from the 2017 Frost Place Chapbook Competition
release date: April 3, 2018



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.”

Leila Chatti was born in 1990 in Oakland, California. A Tunisian-American dual citizen, she has lived in the United States, Tunisia, and Southern France. She is the author of the debut full-length collection Deluge (Copper Canyon Press, 2020), winner of the 2021 Levis Reading Prize, the 2021 Luschei Prize for African Poetry, and longlisted for the 2021 PEN Open Book Award, and the chapbooks Figment (Bull City Press), The Mothers (Slapering Hol Press), Ebb (New-Generation African Poets) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press.

She holds a B.A. from the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University and an M.F.A. from North Carolina State University, where she was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and fellowships and scholarships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, The Frost Place Conference on Poetry, the Key West Literary Seminars, Dickinson House, and Cleveland State University, where she was the inaugural Anisfield-Wolf Fellow in Writing and Publishing.

Her poems have received prizes from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative’s 30 Below Contest, the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and the Pushcart Prize, among others, and appear in The New York Times Magazine, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, POETRY, The Nation, The Atlantic, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, Tin House, American Poetry Review, Narrative Magazine, and other journals and anthologies. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Brunel International African Poetry Prize. She currently teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University and is the Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence at Smith College.

Additional information

Weight .35 lbs
Dimensions 5.5 × 8.5 × .25 in


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