These epistolary poems are simply brilliant. The way the depth comes to the surface with such ease certainly points to the poet’s mastery over language. This is also another manuscript in the pile that mixes fine poetry with a great sense of humor.
The poetic “I” takes on different shapes and sounds without losing its focus & the flow of the overall theme & music. Though the poet writes in English, I could also hear the impeccably luscious (as in sweet & appealing) sounds of Arabic between and above the lines.
I also couldn’t help but think of Jack Spicer’s After Lorca, another brilliant book of epistolary poems, while reading this manuscript. And what Spicer says of perfect poetry, that it “has infinitely small vocabulary,” applies to Cairo: the undelivered letters.
Mai Serhan’s chapbook CAIRO: the undelivered letters was designed and printed by Rhonda Khalifeh with the assistance of Caslon Yoon in honor of the 2022 Annual Chapbook Reading. Letterpress printed in an edition of 100.