Returning to Jaffa is a docupoetic inquiry into the mystery of what happened to Palestine’s most populous city and its municipal archives during the Nakba in 1948. Working with vintage postcards, Haganah leaflets, and personal photographs, Returning to Jaffa tells the story of one former resident of Jaffa, Nahida Halaby Gordon, a Palestinian who fled her native land during 1948, and who periodically returns to visit her childhood home, confiscated by Israel after the war.
With his exacting documentarian’s eye, Philip Metres delivers this extraordinary excavation of the nuanced history of Jaffa, Palestine layered with a resounding signal boost to the testimony of Nahida Halaby Gordon, who was forced out of her ancestral home in 1948. This work reads as both sequel to the groundbreaking Sand Opera and prelude to the highly anticipated Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon, 2020). “In Yafa I attended Tabeetha School for Girls named after the girl brought back from death...” Halaby’s testimony ricochets off artifact after artifact of a people exiled. The result is a powerful reverberation we cannot afford to forget or tune out.
— Marwa Helal, author of Invasive species (Nightboat, 2019)
Returning to Jaffa is a love letter, an elegy, a psalm. These seeking, longing poems attempt to reconcile past and present, word and image, the impulse to speak and the need to listen. More than that, they attempt to reconcile people and cultures. Philip Metres writes poems that again and again help us to believe in that beautiful possibility.
— Dave Lucas, author of Weather and Ohio Poet Laureate
Returning to Jaffa by Philip Metres
Diode Editions 2019
36 pages, 6 by 8 inches