Winner, Arab American National Museum's 2015 George Ellenbogen Poetry Award
Tahrir Suite is a book-length poem that contemplates immigration, homeland, and diaspora in the twenty-first century. The poem, inspired by recent events in Egypt, cycles through the journey of two Egyptians moving across borders, languages, cultures, landscapes, and political systems while their life in the U.S. diaspora evolves and their home country undergoes revolutionary change.
Written from a perspective and about a place that is virtually unexplored in contemporary American poetry, Tahrir Suite works to capture the complicated essence of what it means to be from a specific place that is experiencing such radical change and how our understandings of “home” and “place” constantly evolve. Tahrir Suite is a musical meditation on what it means to be a global citizen in contemporary times.
“Matthew Shenoda’s stunning third collection, Tahrir Suite, is unlike any other work in contemporary American poetry. This powerful book-length poem embraces poetry’s epic tradition to follow two Egyptians as they migrate from a place where ‘A dictator swallows the clouds for shade / And the people are left beneath the sun’ to the United States, where ‘There will always be a sense of hunger / A yearning to swim in an open sea.’ In his verses, we see the displacement, the longing, and the adjustments that have always been a part of the immigrant paradox. Shenoda’s tightly woven lyric questions the global community and all of its cultural obfuscation, and it is through that questioning that we see the real beauty of the diaspora—its resilience, its unrelenting humanity. This is a timely and necessary poem for a fragmented world full of people in search of a home.”—Adrian Matejka, author of The Big Smoke
“Readers in North America ignore a poem like this at the risk of incurring deadly and debilitating ‘Western’ myopia and insularity. Tahrir Suite must be read as poem, allegory, dirge, proclamation, and on some level as a political manifesto: ‘This is a crucial thing / That one cannot live without the threads of dignity / That one cannot live without acceptance / That one cannot live without a sun to guide . . .’ It is a timely text that speaks to world events as we are currently experiencing them.”—Sapphire, author of Push