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Plague Lands and other poems

Versions by Anthony Howell

Fawzi Karim and Anthony Howell

Translated by Abbas Kadhim

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RRP: GBP 12.95
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ISBN: 978 1 847779 34 2
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Arabic, Translation, War writings
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: February 2011
160 pages (print version)
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: eBook (EPUB), Paperback
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  • Description
  • Excerpt
  • Authors
  • Contents
  • Awards
  • Reviews
  • I shall come back
    To say, ‘I’m drunk on the shade
    Of the mulberries that overhang our glasses.’
    I shall come back
    To sing of those who drank with me.
    And it is enough
    To mourn my father’s house;
    To mourn for us – who abandoned it

    from ‘The Last Song’
    Born in Baghdad in 1945, now living in London, Fawzi Karim is one of the most compelling voices of the exiled generation of Iraqi writers. In the first collection of his poetry to appear in English, his long sequence ‘Plague Lands’ is an elegy for the life of a lost city, a chronicle of a journey into exile, haunted by the deep history of an ancient civilisation. Memories of Baghdad’s smoke-filled cafés, its alleys and mulberry-shaded squares, ‘the tang of tea, of coffee beans…arak, napthalene, damp straw mats’, are recalled with painful intensity. Karim’s defiant humanity, rejecting dogma and polemic, makes him a necessary poet for fractured times.

    Working closely with the author, the poet Anthony Howell has created versions of ‘Plague Lands’ and a selection of Karim’s shorter poems. Notes on the poems, Elena Lappin’s introduction and an afterword by Marius Kociejowsky exploring Karim’s life, illuminate the context of the poetry.
    Decidedly, Fawzi Karim is a poet for our times, with his strong yet beautiful voice, his indignation, his protests – and the haunting memories of certain lines that seem intended for all of us, but that few of us can hear in the endless tumult of what is still called ‘life’ - James Kirkup

    Cover Painting: Fawzi Karim, The Swimmer. Reproduced by permission of the artist.

    Fawzi Karim
    Fawzi Karim is a well-known Iraqi poet, writer and painter. Born in Baghdad in 1945, he was educated at Baghdad University before embarking on a career as a freelance writer. He lived in Lebanon from 1969-1972 and has lived in London since 1978.The Ivory Tower, his column on poetry and European ... read more
    Anthony Howell
    Anthony Howell was born in 1945. A former dancer with the Royal Ballet and subsequently a performance artist – he founded the Theatre of Mistakes 1974 – he has always been as active in literature as he has in movement. He has published several collections of poems and two novels. During ... read more
    Abbas Kadhim
    Abbas Kadhim, ph.D. was born in 1966 in Babylon, Iraq. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He recently published an article in Iraq, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World, edited by Ali Paya and John Esposito (Routledge, 2010). ... read more
    Awards won by Fawzi Karim Commended, 2011 A Poetry Book Society Recommendation (Plague Lands and other poems)
    'This is clearly a major poet.'
    John Welch, Tears in the Fence
    Praise for Fawzi Karim 'What happens to memory after years of exile, untethered from the familiar geographies of home? For the Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, memory must be "restored" by being "fused with the imagination", before it can "transcend history and enter myth, enter the domain of poetry"... Karim's gravest concerns - unstoppable movement, permanent exile, and the elusiveness of true rest - come full circle.'


    Theophilus Kwek, Modern Poetry in Translation


    'Fragments of the present with tangential references to the old stories... These are poems of the self, a turn toward not just the past but the deep past, the past of myth'
    Jessica Sequeira, Berfrois
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