Ammiel alcalay

Ammiel Alcalay. Courtesy The Film Studies Progam at Queen's College.

Ammiel Alcalay (born 1956) is an American poet, academic, critic, translator, and prose stylist.


Alcalay was born and raised in Boston. His parents were Sephardic Jews from Bosnia.[1] He is currently a professor in the English Department at CUNY Graduate Center.

Alcalay is perhaps best known as a Middle Eastern scholar and university instructor. As a university instructor, Prof. Alcalay has taught Sephardic Literature (both Hebrew and in-translation), and a variety of courses on Middle Eastern and Mediterranean literacy and intellectual culture and its contemporary and modern reception, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as creative writing. A comparatist by training, he specializes in these topics and in Balkan literatures and history, poetics, and theories of translation; he publishes translations of Hebrew and Bosnian, as well as his own poetry.[2]

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 1st 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.[3]

"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." [4]

Alcalay's poetry, prose, reviews, critical articles and translations have appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Time Magazine, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The Jerusalem Post, Grand Street, Conjunctions, Sulfur, The Nation, Middle East Report, Afterimage, Parnassus, City Lights Review, Review of Jewish Social Studies, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, The Michigan Quarterly, Caliban, Paper Air, Paintbrush, Mediterraneans, and various other publications.[4]



  • The Cairo Notebooks. Philadelphia, PA: Singing Horse Press, 1993.
  • A Masque in the Form of a Cento. Calgary, AB, & Philadelphia, PA: Hole Chapbooks, 2000.
  • Neither Wit nor Gold (from 'Then'). Brooklyn, NY: Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011.


  • Islanders. San Franciso, CA: City Lights, 2010.
  • Outcast (by Shimon Ballas, Ammiel Alcalay, and Oz Shelach). San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 2007.


  • After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine culture. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.
  • Memories of Our Future: Selected essays, 1982-1999. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 1999.
  • From the Warring Factions (with Benjamin Hollander; edited by Fred Dewey). Los Angeles, CA: Beyond Baroque, 2002.
  • Poetry, Politics & Translation: American Isolation and the Middle East. Newfield, NY: Palm Press, 2003.
  • A Little History (edited by Fred Dewey). New York: Upset, 2013.


  • Semezdin Mehmedinović, Nine Alexandrias (translated from Bosnian). City Lights, 2003.
  • Semezdin Mehmedinović, Sarajevo Blues. City Lights, 1998.
  • Zlatko Dizdarević, Sarajevo: A War Journal (edited and co-translated). Henry Holt, 1994.
  • Zlatko Dizdarević, Portraits of Sarajevo (edited and co-translated). Fromm, 1995.


  • Keys to the Garden: New Israeli writing. San Francisco, CA: City Lights, 1996.

Except where noted, biographical information courtesy WorldCat.[5]

See alsoEdit


  1. Alyssa A. Lappen, Poetry, Terror, and political narcissism, Campus Watch Research, Middle East Forum, Campus Watch, Web, June 27, 2012.
  2. Faculty Page, Queens College, CUNY
  3. Big Bridge, Issue 3
  4. 4.0 4.1 Small Press Traffic
  5. Search results = au:Ammiel Alcalay, WorldCat, March 15, 2014.

External linksEdit

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