cover image Fugitive/Refuge


Philip Metres. Copper Canyon, $22 trade paper (144p) ISBN 978-1-55659-669-8

The powerful sixth book from Metres (Shrapnel Maps), who is of Lebanese descent, confronts the trials of the present moment—including forced migration, climate change, and nationalism—through his family’s migration story. Metres wields poetic forms (among them odes, sonnets, and prayers) to explore themes of loss and resilience. The volume is arranged around the qasida, an ancient Arabic poetic form consisting of three sections: naṣīb (fate), raḥīl (exile), and fakhr (honor or praise). With lyrical mastery, Metres riffs on the famous sonnet by Emma Lazarus found on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor,/ Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,/ The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.” His tonal equivalent contrasts the original with the cry of a “migrant woman” who scrounges for anything that “might fill her children’s insides”: “We’ve hidden in swarms/ To escape the dread masters of horror...Welcome us, the deplored./ We stand at the landing of your golden dorm” (“The New New Colossus”). Metres reflects on those “who live their last years/ where they’ve always lived—/ in another country” in poems that transcend time and place, language and silence, honoring the enduring spirit of those who journey in search of refuge. (Apr.)