KUAF Arts Beat: Marking Memory and Identity with 'Tattoos'

Dec 3, 2018

Poet Peter Twal's debut collection, Our Earliest Tattoos, tackles memory and contemporary life with wit, humor and sentimental flair. The poems draw inspiration from lyrics of LCD Soundsystem's "All My Friends," which Twal first heard in 2012 and felt an immediate connection to. Throughout the book, he treats the song as an artifact and uses its lyrics to punctuate moments in the lives of his narrators.  

In 2018 Twal won the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize from the University of Arkansas Press, which is awarded for the first or second work in English by an Arab or Arab-American poet. He says that in winning the prize and looking back on some of his poetry he was able to reflect on his own identity and develop a connection with his heritage. 

"I think through some of these poems [I] revisited the memory of myself as a human body," he says. "When I think about being an Arab-American writer it's the same as being an Arab-American anything... it's given me a chance to reorient myself and engage with people differently."

Twal is Jordanian-American and lives in Phoenix, Ariz. where he also works as an electrical engineer. His book is out now from the UA Press.

Listen to the full interview and hear an excerpt from the collection by clicking on the streaming link above.