D. H. MELHEM, daughter of Lebanese immigrants (with paternal Greek ancestry) was born in Brooklyn. Having written since the age of eight, she was graduated from high school as �class poet� and read an early poem about the United States to assemblies. At New York University she earned a B.A. cum laude and membership in Phi Beta Kappa. Years later she was granted an M.A. from City College and a Ph.D. from the City University of New York, and has been honored with a Ph.D. CUNY Alumni Achievement Award and two Pushcart Prize nominations. She served on the faculties of Long Island University and The New School for Social Research.
Manhattan�s Upper West Side, where she raised two children, inspired Melhem�s NOTES ON 94th STREET and CHILDREN OF THE HOUSE AFIRE. Recipient of national and international prizes for her poetry, including those from Pen & Brush, The World Order of Narrative and Formalist Poets, Calliope, and most recently the Marilyn K. Prescott Award, co-sponsored by Medicinal Purposes, her poems have appeared in anthologies, and in major literary journals, such as Confrontation, Croton Review, Paintbrush, Pivot, The Formalist, and Colorado Review.
As a scholar, Melhem�s GWENDOLYN BROOKS: POETRY AND THE HEROIC VOICE was the first comprehensive study of the poet and earned her nomination for a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship in Women�s Studies. It was published by the University Press of Kentucky (l987). Her HEROISM IN THE NEW BLACK POETRY(UPK, l990) was undertaken with a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and won an American Book Award in l99l. Of her more than fifty published essays, her New York Times Magazine article, "A Family Works a Miracle," earned a New York Heart Association Media Award and was reprinted in SCIENCE OF THE TIMES.
Melhem�s novel BLIGHT was published in l995 by Riverrun Press, the same year that REST IN LOVE, her acclaimed elegy for her mother, was reissued by Confrontation Magazine Press. A member of PEN, the Dramatists Guild, the Authors Guild, Pen & Brush, the Poetry Society of America, Poets House, and other professional societies, she is a former board member of Pen & Brush and of RAWI (Radius of Arab American Writers), whose first anthology, A DIFFERENT PATH (Ridgeway Press,2000), she co-edited. Melhem is also a contributing editor of HOME PLANET NEWS. She currently serves as Vice-President of the International Women's Writing Guild and gives writing workshops at their Annual Summer Writing Conference at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY. International Women's Writing Guild
Her musical drama, CHILDREN OF THE HOUSE AFIRE, based on her New York poems, was produced at Theater for the New City, New York, in March l999.
COUNTRY, 1998, is her fourth book of poetry. A fifth, POEMS FOR YOU, a chapbook, was published by P & Q Press in 2000. CONVERSATION WITH A STONEMASON, her latest book of poems, is published by IKON, 2003.
Samples of her work:
Conversation with a Stonemason
D H Melhem's website : http://dhmelhem.home.att.net
Conversation with a Stonemason
Love, war, family, politics, art, nature, the city, marriage, divorce, death, travel, Arab American heritage, 9/11�all this from a noted poet who is also a distinguished scholar. D.H. Melhem�s sixth book of poems, affirms her extraordinary range and depth.
AN ORGANIC POEM
" Not since the long narrative American journeys of Longfellow and Whitman to the syncopated sequences of William Carlos Williams and Allen Ginsberg has such a poem explored the surface and substance of the national soil and soul. History, Vietnam, the immigrant dream, landscapes of failure and fulfillment lattice the themes and motifs of this visionary work, an American epic in progress since 1972 and hailed early on by poet Barbara A. Holland as 'the organ voice of the United States.'"
Rest in Love
Confrontation Magazine Press, l995 (reissue)
A book-length elegy for the poet�s mother, describing a loving relationship, its terrible loss, anger, and healing.
Notes on 94th Street
This book, the author�s first, has been recognized as �the first poetry collection in English by an Arab-American woman� The collection reveals the pathos and beauty of the poet�s Manhattan West Side neighbors and neighborhood. Greeted with universal enthusiasm, it received praise from many distinguished writers and critics.
CHILDREN OF THE HOUSE AFIRE:
More Notes on 94th Street
Dovetail Press, 1976 (out of print)
This collection continues to examine the milieu of 94th Street. In 1999 it gave its title to the musical drama produced at Theater for the New City, with music by Grenoldo Frazier and book, lyrics, and additional music by D. H. Melhem. While several critics were put off by some of the strongly political poems, it received much praise. Like NOTES ON 94th STREET, CHILDREN OF THE HOUSE AFIRE ranges the lives and locale of the area and remains as a social as well as aesthetic document of situations and places that no longer
PROSE > FICTION
�As this unsettling fable begins, Joseph, a solitary, retired widower, is hoeing his garden when he discovers l0 gnomelike, bald, mushroom-colored creatures, each of then one foot tall. Growing in soil irradiated by nuclear fallout, the �ground people,� as he calls them, are a fratricidal bunch whose incessant conflicts mirror human callousness, greed and wanton destruction of the environment. "
PROSE > NONFICTION
Heroism in the New Black Poetry:
Melhem�s clear introductions and frank interviews provide insight into the contemporary social and political consciousness of six acclaimed poets: Amiri Baraka, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jayne Cortez, Haki R. Madhubuti, Dudley Randall, and Sonia Sanchez.
POETRY AND THE HEROIC VOICE
This comprehensive biocritical study traces the development of Brooks's poetry over four decades, from such early works as "A Street in Bronzeville" and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Annie Allen" to the more recent "In the Mecca", "Riot", and "To Disembark".