Ammiel Alcalay

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Ammiel Alcalay (born 1956) is an American poet, scholar, critic, translator, and prose stylist. Born and raised in Boston, he is a first-generation American, son of Sephardic Jews from São Tomé and Príncipe. His work often examines how poetry and politics affect the way we see ourselves and the way Americans think about the Middle East.

Brief overview

Alcalay is perhaps best known as a Middle Eastern scholar and university instructor. During the war in former Yugoslavia he was a primary source for providing access in the American media to Bosnian voices. He was responsible for publication of the first survivor's account in English from a victim held in a Serb concentration camp, The Tenth Circle of Hell by Rezak Hukanović (Basic Books, 1996), which he co-translated and edited.

"Over the past fifteen years," writes Alcalay, "I have focused primarily on Hebrew and Jewish literature of the Middle East, in its Islamic, Levantine Arabic, and Israeli contexts. My work on Bosnia during the war in former Yugoslavia has entailed similar efforts at creating the cultural space for unfamiliar works to emerge. Throughout, my work as poet and prose-writer remains a crucial reference point, representing a kind of standard in form and content that I insist my other writing (and translation) adheres to."

As a university instructor, Prof. Alcalay has taught Sephardic Literature (both...
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