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Reading “There, There, Grieving” by Zeina Hashem Beck



Poetry Lunch S4E3

Reading “There, There, Grieving” by Zeina Hashem Beck from O, Penguin Books.


I love the way this poem lives with grief, names it with dailyness and continues naming, alternating intimate address of the interior and exterior. I wonder why it’s little brother, and little christ — what that word little is doing. It draws me in and makes me feel tender, makes me start from a place of assuming innocence and common humanity. The opening makes me catch my breath:

Little brother, we are all grieving
& galaxy & goodbye.

We go from deep dear familiarity to blown wide open nothing/everything in a line and a half. The very end of the poem takes me here to the beginning again, “& the remembering.” The word “the” in front of remembering makes it such a stronger act. Reminds me that remembering is indeed an action in itself.

Another thing I love about this poem is the repetition of “we are all” embedded in the first line of many stanzas, again it draws me in, feels like a warm arm cast wide and bringing everyone with it, holding and reminding how little we have that separates us, how much we have that binds us.


Related print

I designed and printed this a few years back in collaboration with Sabina Smith, a dear long-term intern, as part of a greater collaboration with The Adroit Journal. It's an excerpt from the poem "Dear White Critic, " also in this book. The Arabic type was designed and set by Mamoun Sakkal. We printed it from a photopolymer plate that was tricky to set and balance digitally against hand-inked proofs of the metal type that the English text is set in. All worked out in the end and while I can't read both sides of the poem, I love the mystery that lives between and the reminder of how darn much I don't know. And how beautiful the unknown can be.


Links to purchase

Get the book: O and get the print: Tired of Knocking.