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The War Works Hard

Dunya Mikhail

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Paperback
ISBN: 978 1 857548 69 3
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Arabic, BAME, War writings, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: July 2006
216 x 135 x 6 mm
96 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press
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  • 'How magnificent the war is!
    How eager
    and efficient!
    Early in the morning,
    it wakes up the sirens
    and dispatches ambulances
    to various places,
    swings corpses through the air,
    rolls stretchers to the wounded,
    summons rain
    from the eyes of mothers,
    digs into the earth
    dislodging many things
    from under the ruins...
    ...The war works with unparalleled diligence!
    Yet no one gives it
    a word of praise.'

    from 'The War Works Hard'
    "Yesterday I lost a country," Dunya Mikhail writes in The War Works Hard, a subversive, sobering work by an exiled Iraqi poet, and her first collection to appear in English. Compassionate, engaged and direct, Mikhail's is a voice that transcends boundaries, and one that has rarely seemed more necessary.

    Dunya Mikhail writes an Arabic poetry for the twenty-first century - urgent and painful, composed our of successive experiences of violence and exile. She remakes the traditional forms and imagery of Arabic poetry to give voice to women's experience of war, to the experiences of lovers, children and mothers, those whose vulnerability is also the tenacious humanity that gives hope of survival and new beginnings.

    An Iraqi, now living in the United States, Mikhail writes and speaks in Arabic, Arameic and English. Her literary inheritance embraces ancient myths, the sacred books of Christianity and Islam, and Western modernism, and she inhabits cultures that range from deep-rooted traditions to the brutalities of modern states. Mikhail has collaborated closely with the translator Elizabeth Winslow in publishing this collection.

    Table of Contents

    Introduction by Saadi Simawe



    ONE. THE WAR WORKS HARD (2004)



    Bag of Bones

    Shoemaker

    The War Works Hard

    The Game

    The Prisoner

    A Drop of Water

    Inanna

    An Urgent Call

    Non-Military Statements

    Between Two Wars

    Tough Rose

    The Jewel

    A Voice

    Travel Agency

    O

    Santa Claus

    Buzz

    Crashed Acts

    Snowstorm

    To Any Other Place

    I Was In A Hurry

    America

    Silent Movie

    Laheeb and the City

    The Rocking Chair

    Traces

    The Foreigner

    Five Minutes



     TWO. FROM ALMOST MUSIC (1997)



    The Cup

    The Resonance

    The Artist Child

    The Departure of Friends

    A Tombstone

    The Theory of Absence

    Nothing Here is Enough

    What's New?

    The Pomegranate Seeds

    With One Look From Him

    An Orange



     THREE. FROM THE PSALMS OF ABSENCE (1993)



    Behind the Glass

    The Nun

    The New Year

    Transformations of the Child and the Moon

    The Chaldean's Ruins

    The Shadow of a Tear

    Pronouns



    Notes

    Dunya Mikhail was born in Baghdad, Iraq, and moved to the United States thirty years later in 1995. After graduating from the University of Baghdad, she worked as a journalist and translator for the Baghdad Observer. Facing censorship and interrogation, she left Iraq, first to Jordan and then to America, settling ... read more
    Awards won by Dunya Mikhail Winner, 2019 A Poetry Book Society Autumn Wild Card Selection
    (In Her Feminine Sign)
    Short-listed, 2005  Griffin International Poetry Prize
    (The War Works Hard)
    Winner, 2004 Pen Translation Fund Award
    (The War Works Hard)
    'Here is the new Iraqi poetry: terse, unadorned, stripped and ironic...her voice is the inescapable voice of Arab poetry today.'
    Pierre Joris
    Praise for Dunya Mikhail 'a collection of limpid meditations which demand that we pause as we read [...] profoundly thought-through work'

    Fiona Sampson, Guardian Poetry Review Roundup

    'In Her Feminine Sign is a wise and innovative set of poems which ask us to consider not only what it means to be living away from home, but how home can shift depending on a number of variables.'

    Anthony Anaxagorou, PBS Autumn Bulletin 

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