Arrowsmith Press, in conjunction with Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and The Walcott Festival in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, are delighted to announce that the winner of the third annual Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry is Mosab Abu Toha for Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear published by City Lights.
The winner was selected by author Canisia Lubrin from a short list of twelve finalists.
About Abu Toha’s work, Lubrin writes:
Here is a book which revels at an impossible pitch, the potent will to live heart-first in confrontation with life under brutal siege. Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear is a supertonic glossary of sorrows so extreme it bends the brace of language into fortifying, never-naïve, elegy.
Toha’s meticulous, and often brief, lines thread his own breathing witness into a poetry of mighty resolve, insisting poetry itself be worthy of a Palestinian lament. Toha insists on these songs, holding each by their own powerful weight and bond, into this rippling of a future out beyond the page. This is a work of great restraint and abundant attention presented as always waiting in the routine arrangements of the day-to-day. Such grace and understanding, daring because necessary, necessary because how powerful it is to hear a voice cut so sharply through today. So haunting, so searing, and above all, so lit by Mosab Abu Toha’s vibrant—what else to call it?—love.
Mosab Abu Toha is a Palestinian poet, scholar, and librarian who was born in Gaza and has spent his life there. He is the founder of the Edward Said Library, Gaza’s first English-language library. Things You May Find Hidden in My Ear is his debut book of poems. The collection won an American Book Award, a 2022 Palestine Book Award and was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry.
In 2019-2020, Abu Toha was a Visiting Poet in the Department of Comparative Literature at Harvard University. Abu Toha is a columnist for Arrowsmith Journal, and his writings from Gaza have also appeared in The Nation and Literary Hub. His poems have been published in Poetry, The Nation, the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Poetry Daily, and the New York Review of Books, among others.
Abu Toha will receive a $2,000 cash prize. Established in 2019, the annual prize is for a book in English or English translation by a living poet writing in any language who is not a US citizen (green card holders welcome) published in the previous calendar year.
To learn more about this book or to purchase it, visit:
Submissions for the 2023 Walcott Prize are now open. To learn more, visit: