Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation

Overview

"Through these poems, Amal al-Jubouri connects us to the earliest known poems, and yet the dialectic tension between them is utterly contemporary. Al-Jubouri writes 'This is my protest, this is my folly,' yet these poems are neither simple protest nor in any sense folly. These poems are both essential and eternal."—Nick Flynn

This translation of Iraqi author Amal al-Jubouri contextualizes America's occupation of Iraq through the Qur'an's story of Hagar. Complementary pairs of poems portray life before and after ...

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Overview

"Through these poems, Amal al-Jubouri connects us to the earliest known poems, and yet the dialectic tension between them is utterly contemporary. Al-Jubouri writes 'This is my protest, this is my folly,' yet these poems are neither simple protest nor in any sense folly. These poems are both essential and eternal."—Nick Flynn

This translation of Iraqi author Amal al-Jubouri contextualizes America's occupation of Iraq through the Qur'an's story of Hagar. Complementary pairs of poems portray life before and after the war. This work simultaneously mirrors Hagar's desperate running between Safa and Marwah, as we pace frantically between pre- and post-occupation Iraq—the poet begging in vain for poetry not to abandon her people.

Honor before the occupation

Worship the Leader
Love the Party
Curse America, the siege

~

Honor after the occupation

Curse the Dictator
Forsake the Party
Clap with flowers in your hand for America, her wall

Amal al-Jubouri, a native of Iraq, is the author of five collections of poetry including Wine from Wounds; Words, Set Me Free!; Enheduanna, Priestess of Exile; and 99 Veils. In 1997 she took asylum in Germany after having been listed first on Uday Hussein's list of renegade Iraqi writers and was the first Iraqi writer to return to Baghdad, two days after the fall of the regime. The founder and editor-in-chief of al-Diwan, the first and only Arab-German literary magazine, she is president of the East-West Diwan German Cultural Foundation and acts as cultural counselor for the Yemen Embassy in Berlin.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, Hagar (pronounced with a hard g) is the banished other, but in the Islamic tradition (pronounced with a soft g), she is an honored presence, founder of Mecca in her wanderings. Baghdad-born al-Jubouri knows banishment herself—she fled Iraq for Germany in 1997 after having appeared on the government's list of renegade writers, returning directly after the regime's fall—so it makes sense for her to speak in the guise of Hagar. In spare, vivid, and poundingly heartfelt language, she shows us her country before the occupation by U.S. troops and afterward. Though political observation is inevitable (After the occupation, the Tigris "escapes// the Green Zone's eyes/ the Palace's eyes/ the invader's grunts"), this is no mere polemic but a meditation on how a country and its people change after a momentous event, reflected through observation of the physical ("photographs," "my mouth") and the less tangible ("love," "freedom," "my grave"). Loneliness before the occupation "arrested our sleep/ our secrets/ our restlessness" and afterward "escapes from our beds to our bodies." VERDICT Given Iraq's millennia-long history, it's not surprising that these poems have a timeless, haunting quality, and they offer not just enormous pleasure but understanding.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781882295890
  • Publisher: Alice James Books
  • Publication date: 12/13/2011
  • Edition description: Bilingual
  • Pages: 160
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Amal Al-Jubouri was born in Iraq, and is the author of five collections of poetry, including This Body is Yours, Do Not Fear for My Sake, which received the prize for best Arabic book at the Beirut book fair. She has also translated many plays and collections of poetry into Arabic. In 1997, she fled Iraq for Europe and settled in Münich. She is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of al-Diwan, the Arab-German literary magazine, and since 2001, has presided as Chairman of the Board for the East-West gathering for Arabic-German cultural exchange, in Berlin. Her most recent book, Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation, translated by Rebecca Gayle Howell and Husam Qaisi, will be her first collection in English.

Rebecca Gayle Howell’s poems, translations, and essays can be found in Ecotone, The Massachusetts Review, Great River Review, and Front Porch Republic, and her documentary work has been collected in the anthologies Plundering Appalachia (EarthWise), and The Artist as Activist in Appalachia (U. of N. Georgia Press), and in This is Home Now: Kentucky’s Holocaust Survivors Speak (U. Press of Kentucky). Currently, she is a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA.

Husam Qaisi was born in Amman, Jordan, and moved to the United States in 2004. While In Jordan, Qaisi was a successful businessman and tradesman of electronics. He has sustained a love for poetry and literature since childhood.

Alicia Ostriker is a major American poet and critic. Twice nominated for a National Book Award, she is author of twelve volumes of poetry. As a critic, Ostriker is the author of two pathbreaking volumes on women's poetry and has also published three books on the Bible.

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