Tunisian American Poet Leila Chatti
Photo Credit: Leila Chatti Website
My Poetry Corner December 2019 features the poem “Confession” by Tunisian American poet and educator Leila Chatti, published in the anthology of poetry Halal If You Hear Me: BreakBeat Poets Vol. 3, edited by Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo.
Born in 1990 in Oakland, California, Leila Chatti is one of four children of a Tunisian father and American mother. Her parents met when her father came to the United States to study for his PhD. Her father, the only one of seven children to leave Tunisia, maintained a close relationship with relatives by having his American-born family spend the summers with them.
Raised a Muslim by her father, Chatti began fasting for Ramadan at seven years old. Her experiences associated with fasting—hunger, restraint, obedience, resilience, lack—played a significant role in shaping the person she has become. In her poem, “Fasting in Tunis,” she recalls:
My God taught me hunger
is a gift, it sweetens
the meal. All day, I have gone without
because I know at the end I will
eat and be satisfied. In this way,
my desire is bearable. Continue reading