"FOLLOW THE PERSON": Archival Encounters

Poet, novelist, translator, scholar and critical essayist extraordinaire, Ammiel Alcalay’s intrepid work has always moved across geographic, chronological, political, and linguistic borders. “FOLLOW THE PERSON”: Archival Encounters, gathers a dizzying array of texts by Alcalay written over the past fifteen years, all of them having something to do with archival materials. In Alcalay’s case, however, these archives range from more traditional, institutionally held materials and personal collections, to the use of his own experiences and memories as sources for redrawing cultural maps that have too long been divided along sectarian lines of one kind or another.

Moving from the Beats and the Black Arts Movement to the Middle East, “FOLLOW THE PERSON” recalibrates our sense of living history while offering new possibilities for encounters that have been relegated to oblivion or never even imagined. Culled from a variety of sources and contexts, encountering these essays together offers a completely different experience of Alcalay’s essays, one that argues for a methodology based on minutely recorded events and historical contexts, and for necessary human and cultural encounters that provide models for a new, reinvigorated critical vocabulary.