Philip Metres’s essays demonstrate the necessity of poetry in uncertain times
Philip Metres stakes a claim for the cultural work that poems can perform—from providing refuge to embodying resistance, from recovering silenced voices to building a more just world, in communities of solitude and solidarity. Gathering a decade of his writing on poetry, he widens our sense of poetry as a way of being in the world, proposing that poems can offer a permeability to marginalized voices and a shelter from the imperial noise and despair that can silence us. The Sound of Listening ranges between expansive surveys of the poetry of 9/11, Arab American poetry, documentary poetry, landscape poetry, installation poetry, and peace poetry; personal explorations of poets such as Adrienne Rich, Khalil Gibran, Lev Rubinstein, and Arseny Tarkovsky; and intimate dialogues with Randa Jarrar, Fady Joudah, and Micah Cavaleri, that illuminate Metres’s practice of listening in his 2015 work, Sand Opera.
Philip Metres is the author of nine books of poems, translation, and criticism. The recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, two Arab American Book Awards, and the Cleveland Arts Prize, among other honors, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Photo credit: Jeremy Zipple
"In his deeply engaging The Sound of Listening, Philip Metres, one of the essential poets of our time, demonstrates the critical acumen that has made his poetry so attuned to our zeitgeist. Metres's essays exhibit an exhilarating range, from avant-garde installation art to pop songs, from the highbrow aesthetics of Modernism to the primal joy of memorizing poems. Generous in its listening and committed to justice and beauty and to the beauty of justice, this is a wonderfully learned and instructive book."
—Khaled Mattawa, author of Tocqueville and MacArthur recipient
"This is the critical collection we need today, as we’ve needed it every day—one that points to a lineage of poetry political, committed, alive. To listen to these poets—Adrienne Rich, Muriel Rukeyser, Khaled Mattawa, Mohja Kahf, and on—through Metres is to hear a practice of compassion and righteousness that is exemplary. I leave reading these essays and conversations as I often leave reading Phil Metres’s astonishing work: emboldened and awake to the possibilities of poetry as communal, as documentary, as song, as refuge and, yes, resistance."
—Solmaz Sharif, author of LOOK (2016)
"In his essential new book, The Sound of Listening, Philip Metres explores a number of different orientations of the poet—poet as alternative historian, detective, philosopher, documentarian, shaman. Drawing on everyone from Karl Marx to Mos Def, Kahlil Gibran to Peter Gabriel, Enheduanna to Edward Said, Metres accomplishes that most difficult task: a book about poetry that actually captures its rich multiplicity, opening outward into a more rigorously, compassionately imagined poetic future."
—Kaveh Akbar, author of Calling a Wolf a Wolf (2017)
Winner: Arab American National Museum (AANM) Arab American Book Awards 2019 Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award- AANM Arab American Book Awards Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award
"This anthology is an admirable addition to ... Michigan’s distinguished 'Poets on Poetry' series."- World Literature Today
--World Literature Today
Read: Interview with Philip Metres on University of Michigan Press blog Link | 10/1/2018
Read: Essay "Dispatch from the Land of Erasure (I)" by Philip Metres, from Boston Review Link | 5/10/2018
Read: RUMPUS ORIGINAL POETRY: THREE POEMS BY PHILIP METRES from The Rumpus Link | 12/20/2018
Listen: Interview with Philip Metres Link | 7/3/2018
Read: Interview with Philip Metres, from Bellingham Review Link | 1/17/2018
Read: Essay "On the Third Most Popular Poet of All Time" on Literary Hub Link | 9/17/2018
Read: Essay "(MORE) NEWS FROM POEMS: INVESTIGATIVE / DOCUMENTARY / SOCIAL POETICS ON THE TENTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PUBLICATION OF “FROM REZNIKOFF TO PUBLIC ENEMY" from Kenyon Review Link | March/April 2018
Read: Interview with Philip Metres from Midwestern Gothic Link | May 2017
Read and Listen: "Laundry Room Concussion Makes Way for ‘Poems of Refuge’" on IdeaStream Link | 8/29/2018