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The War Works Hard
Categories: 20th Century, 21st Century, Arabic, BAME, War writings, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (96 pages)
(Pub. Jul 2006)
'How magnificent the war is!
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,
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
The War Works Hard
A Drop of Water
An Urgent Call
Between Two Wars
To Any Other Place
I Was In A Hurry
Laheeb and the City
The Rocking Chair
TWO. FROM ALMOST MUSIC (1997)
The Artist Child
The Departure of Friends
The Theory of Absence
Nothing Here is Enough
The Pomegranate Seeds
With One Look From Him
THREE. FROM THE PSALMS OF ABSENCE (1993)
Behind the Glass
The New Year
Transformations of the Child and the Moon
The Chaldean's Ruins
The Shadow of a Tear
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 'Mikhail explores processes and their accoutrements, their spin-offs and accessories... There are several small jewel like pieces that are truly luminous'
Ian Pople, The Manchester Review
'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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