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Two poets, one Jewish and one Arab American, connect through new poetry books

The covers of the books "unalone" by Jessica Jacobs and "Fugitive/Refuge" by Philip Metres
Phil Kovacevich
Four Way Books; Copper Canyon Press
Books by poets Philip Metres and Jessica Jacobs both feature the same picture for the cover.

The conflict in the Middle East is causing political rifts across the globe, playing out on college campuses, and even in the halls of local governments such as Cleveland and Akron. It may feel like the rift between Jewish and Arab communities has never been wider.

The backdrop of that international conflict makes it all the more striking that Philip Metres, an Arab American poet based in Cleveland, and Jessica Jacobs, a Jewish poet living in Asheville, North Carolina have connected over two new books of poetry.

The books, one from Metres and one from Jacobs, just happen to feature the same photograph on the cover, a complete coincidence from the two publishing houses. Both books also share similar themes, exploring the author's faith, ancestry, and sense of belonging.

Book Critic for The Washington Post, Ron Charles, wrote in a profile for the two books, "I know it's only a coincidence. But in this troubled era, I'm desperate for signs and wonders."

Monday on the “Sound of Ideas,” we’ll speak with both Metres about his book “Fugitive/Refuge” and Jacobs about her book “unalone.”

Metres and Jacobs will also appear at an event at John Carroll University on April 3rd.

Later in the hour, we'll mark the one-year anniversary since a Norfolk Southern train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine.

That derailment, the controlled burn of those chemicals, and the aftermath went on to become one of the most closely watched stories of 2023.

Residents have continued to complain of health symptoms, Norfolk Southern's practices have been criticized by rail safety advocates, and public officials were lambasted for not responding in a timely fashion.

We’ll hear from reporters who have been covering the East Palestine story for the last year. And we'll hear what residents have gone through over these past 12 months.

- Phil Metres, Poet and Author, "Fugitive/Refuge"
- Jessica Jacobs, Poet and Author, "unalone"
- Abigail Bottar, Akron/Canton Reporter, Ideastream Public Media
- Julie Grant, Managing Editor/ Reporter, The Allegheny Front
- Zsuzsa Gyenes, East Palestine Resident

Drew Maziasz is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and also serves as the show’s technical producer.