Thursday, January 17, 2008
Khalil Gibran in The New Yorker
The recent New Yorker has a piece on a new biography of poet Khalil Gibran. Khalil Gibran was a revered name in my household, and in my father's childhood home, not only because he was a Lebanese poet who wrote the ubiquitous The Prophet, but also because he hailed from the hometown of my father's mother, Bsharri, Lebanon. He came to stay at their home in Brooklyn Heights (290 Hicks Street), and according to family legend, wrote some of his Prophet while there. That legend I can't confirm exactly, but I have in my possession the letter of thanks that he wrote to my great-grandmother, for their generosity in having him stay with them. Whatever else you want to say about Gibran (and poets are relentless in their mockery of him, placing him somewhere around Jewel and Jimmy Carter in their pantheon), he was a local boy made good. And, in the process of blazing his trail from Bsharri, gave Arab Americans and Arab American poets a figure of their own possible success in translating ineffable Bsharri's into poetic Brooklyns.