Palestinian American Poet/Writer
George Abraham (they/he/هو) is a Palestinian American poet, performance artist, and writer from Jacksonville, FL. Their debut poetry collection Birthright (Button Poetry, 2020) won the Arab American Book Award and the Big Other Book Award in Poetry, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry. He is also the author of the chapbooks al youm (The Atlas Review, 2017), and the specimen's apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). He is a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers (RAWI), a recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, The Arab American National Museum, The Boston Foundation, the National Performance Network, and the MAP Fund, a winner of the 2018 Cosmonauts Avenue Poetry Prize selected by Tommy Pico, and a recipient of the "Best Poet" title from the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam International. Their writing has appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Nation, The American Poetry Review, Guernica, The Baffler, The Paris Review, Mizna, and anthologies such as Nepantla, Bettering American Poetry, and Beyond Memory: an Anthology of Arab American Creative Nonfiction. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard University, Abraham has taught at Emerson College, and is currently based in Chicago, IL, where he is a Litowitz MFA+MA student in Poetry at Northwestern University. He is currently co-editing a Palestinian poetry anthology with Noor Hindi (Haymarket Books), and is collaborating on a performance art project titled EVE with Fargo Tbakhi.
Order Birthright from Button Poetry
Winner of the 2021 Arab American Book Award (the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award) from the Arab American National Museum
Winner of the 2020 Big Other Book Award in Poetry
Finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry, and the Big Other Reader's Choice Award
Named a top spring poetry release by Library Journal, and a best book of 2020 by The New Arab, The Asian American Writers' Workshop, and Entropy Magazine.
Featured on recommended reading lists with BuzzFeed, MassPoetry, The Kenyon Review, The Poetry Foundation, The Millions, Kundiman, The University of Arizona Poetry Center, and named a most anticipated 2020 release by The Rumpus, Library Journal, Big Other Mag, Reads Rainbow, Read Poetry, and The Shade Journal
Release Date: 4.7.2020
Advanced Praise for Birthright
"George Abraham writes, “i am always translating” – from the sizzling, flaring elements of Palestinian/universal displacement, immigration struggles, gender identity, body & memory as “fragmented countries” too, he has built a bold, brilliant book. His poems burn with questioning, “I was not always crumbled fortress & concrete/partition,” they leap with energy. Here is a love too wide for containment, illuminating layers of story – family & land, political yet passionately personal. In a lineage of many broken hearts & heart attacks, here is a heart too brave to mutter or flail.
- Naomi Shihab Nye, Young People’s Poet Laureate
George Abraham is a “scripter of breath” who moves fluidly across poetic forms and linguistic borders to mourn the plight of the Palestinian people and to praise their resilience. Listen to these songs of exile, diaspora, and longing. Navigate these maps of home, the body, and belonging. Remember these translations of erasure, history, and inheritance. Birthright is a miraculous debut that “rewrites graves into sunrise” and crafts a poetics in which “every pronoun is a Free Palestine.”
- Dr. Craig Santos Perez, Author of Habitat Threshold
Abraham captures how politics penetrates our psyche and consciousness, but as his poems triumph through anguish, we are able to hold onto life. The journey of reading these words is also a universal one, bringing together conceptions of faith, love, family, settler-colonialism, violence, queerness, and the search for home. Never has poetry pierced through my heart, and touched my soul, as while reading Birthright for the first time.
- Dr. Sa'ed Atshan, Author of Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique
the specimen's apology
(Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019)
Praise for the specimen's apology:
"Searing away binaries, demolishing the calcified partitions between halves—this is the project George Abraham’s the specimen’s apology. Boy/man, man/woman, history/present, conflict/occupation, English/Arabic, poetry/visual art—the gulf between each is breached, shrunk, erased, widened, warped. “I am always translating,” Abraham tells us in one poem—and it is the wild desperate yearning of the translator, working in vain to achieve perfect fidelity to a source, that powers these poems: 'if desire is, / as my language translates, a moon, / let this body be the satellite.'"
- Kaveh Akbar (author of Calling A Wolf A Wolf)
"From the first, devastating poem (“i touch myself & do not leak gold”), George Abraham’s poems bristle with alchemy, a narrative of love, history, family, and Palestine that pulses with longing. “You cannot know the way you split galaxies/with a single breath,” he says, a prophecy that unfolds throughout the collection, where the speaker reclaims himself, his grief and—yes—his land over and over. Juxtaposed with Leila Abdelrazaq’s startlingly evocative artwork, the specimen’s apology is a fearless, riveting excavation of self and other."
- Hala Alyan (author of The Twenty-Ninth Year and Salt Houses, two-time winner of the Arab American Book Award)
"In the specimen's apology George Abraham writes with a sharp elegance about lineage, about inheritance, about what gets passed down and what doesn't. What's erased. What's obscured. What's locked away. I get the sense of Rubik Cube-ing, searching for the right sequence of words or images or structures to make sense of absence, and in doing so he makes a beautiful, furious and crackling new kind of sense. His writing smacks my feelings right across the face."
- Tommy Pico (author of Junk and Nature Poem, winner of the American Book Award)
al youm (TAR 2017)
Praise for al youm:
"George Abraham is the poetic love child of Whitman and Darwish, an exile living in the borderlands of his own Palestinian body. Through these poems--daringly experimental, explosively confession--he rebuilds himself out of his own erasure. In his words, 'your body isn't a temple--/ your body is the heaven the temples bow to.'"
- Phil Metres, author of Sand Opera / winner of the Arab American Book Award
"George Abraham's poems are both guide and gift. Here is writing through the body in space and time; through ancestral memory and trauma; here is breath, soul, life -- in America; in Palestine. Abraham's poems arrive as ingenious and necessary solutions to equations we don't yet know we need. This book is how we heal."
- Marwa Helal, author of Invasive species
"George Abraham’s al youm engages my brain and my heart in ways both relentless and tender. These poems do such exciting things with form—they are simultaneously ancient and futuristic, considering old hurts and old histories while constantly reimagining what is possible in terms of what a poem can do—visually, syntactically, emotionally— on the page. "
- Safia Elhillo, author of The January Children