The Opposite Swings

Opposite Swings

I started writing poetry in English in 1995, which was the first year of being back in the USA after leaving Canada. I wrote few poems here and there in the midst of my 1995 depression that lasted for about a year.

But what encouraged me seriously to write and believe in my poetic tendencies is Dr. Emily Mckeand. She was my English 132 Professor, who taught me Faulkner, and Thomas Hardy’s Jude The Obscure, and introduced me to DH Lawrence. She was determined to convince me to switch my major from Engineering to English Literature, and wanted to write me a recommendation to pursue my BS at University of Michigan, but I was too sheltered and closed minded to do that. Nevertheless, I have decided to pursue a minor in English Literature in her honors, which I did.

In my path to pursue that minor, I took creative writing class. In that class, I wrote few poems, and was trained by Dr. Baily on how to rid my poetry from adjectives, as opposed to my Arabic tendencies of drowning my subject with synonymous adjectives. Dr. McKean took two poems and submitted them to a contest. I won second place, and here is a video from that event:

All of the poems in the Opposite swings are based on true stories, raw emotions, and a pure representation of their time. For that, I kept my editing to a minimum, for I published them after over a decade when they were written. I was still transforming culturally and intellectually. This poetry collection captures the struggle and transformation.

The Opposite Swings

He swings in the night, and she beside him on the other swing. They swing in opposite directions, only to meet in the middle, in passing. It is a friendship, but she is his beloved, his adoration. Close as she is, she remains elusive forever.

This incident of “opposite swings” serves as a grander metaphor for the themes of this collection of poems: heartbreak, assimilation, isolation, and stark contrast. Here is a young man—a Lebanese immigrant, a devout Believer, a helpless lover—tormented by unrequited love and a foreign, rejecting culture. With tender grace and colliding contrast, Charafeddine’s poems blend the surging tsunamic passion of his broken Middle-Eastern spirit with the tacit craft of the English form. The photographs in the book, which serve to enhance the poems, are equally masterful.

Yousef Alqamoussi