Bayna Bayna: In-Between
by Zeina Azzam
Using the Arabic words bayna bayna as a nod to her Palestinian Arab heritage, Zeina Azzam’s poetry reflects on the feeling of being in-between home and exile, childhood and adulthood, wholeness and loss, and living and dying. Her poems express a bicultural and bilingual view of the world which is at once enriching, bewildering, and beautiful.
About the Author
Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian American poet, writer, editor, and community activist. She volunteers for organizations that promote Palestinian human rights and the civil rights of vulnerable communities in Alexandria, Virginia, where she lives.
Zeina currently works as publications editor for the think tank, Arab Center Washington DC. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passager Journal, Pleiades Magazine, Cordite Poetry Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Mizna, Sukoon Magazine, Split This Rock, Heartwood Literary Magazine, Lunch Ticket, Barzakh: A Literary Magazine, The Fourth River, Infinite Rust, and the edited volumes Tales from Six Feet Apart, Bettering American Poetry, Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees, Write Like You’re Alive, The Poeming Pigeon: Love Poems, The Poeming Pigeon: Pop Culture, Gaza Unsilenced, and Yellow as Turmeric, Fragrant as Cloves. With the poet Sharif Elmusa, Zeina co-translated 14 poems by Arab poets for the Fall 2019 issue of Loch Raven Review. She holds an M.A. in Arabic literature from Georgetown University and an M.A. in sociology from George Mason University.
Twitter: @zeina3azzam • Instagram: @zeina.azzam1
Early Praise for Bayna Bayna:
To be an immigrant is to come with a box of memories and expectations, tiny possessions, all that one can carry. If that person is a poet and lifts the lid, she gives us the ability to be with her as she paves her road. Zeina Azzam, through her stories, and through the integrity of language, creates a world of beauty and patience, even when ideals are shattered. Because this poet knows who she is and is secure in that, the poems are true. Each page encounters a moment where the facts are prevalent; and where passion and technique lift an unforgettable story.
—Grace Cavalieri, Maryland Poet Laureate
On this earth Zeina Azzam reminds us that we are all Palestinians. We are all people of the blue-green watery globe. The evening news unfortunately continues to describe only amnesia. We suffocate when oppression places a hood over our memories. Zeina Azzam writes about being the history book and the poem. She writes between mind and heart. Bayna Bayna is a “chapbook suitcase” filled with longings and desire. Included are poems of love and a gentle rain for all our mornings.
—E. Ethelbert Miller, literary activist and host of On the Margin (WPFW)