Let Me Tell You What I Saw

Adnan Al-Sayegh, edited by Jenny Lewis, trans. from the Arabic by Ruba Abughaida et al. Seren, $14.99 trade paper (206p) ISBN 978-1-78172-602-0
Iraqi poet Al-Sayegh is expertly contextualized and introduced to English-speaking audiences by Lewis in this first dual-language volume. “Uruk’s Anthem,” excerpted here, has the scope of an epic, exploring themes of violence, political unrest, and apocalypse with a momentum and music that is entirely Al-Sayegh’s own. Lewis aptly states the work “might best be described as a modernist dream-poem that frequently strays into nightmare, yet is also imbued with a unique blend of history, mythology, tenderness, lyricism, humor and surrealism.” Between vivid and brutal war scenes (Al-Sayegh was forced to fight for eight years in the Iran-Iraq war) blossom moments of tender lyricism: “I crawl between the graves and our mines.... my clothes wet with clouds/ and my heart a haven for finches.” Throughout, political unrest is rendered urgent and visceral: “scatter the earth as an epitaph/ between the grave of the Minister/ and the masses.... I see the girls/ go down to the spring/ to gather stars’ eggs.... My heart searches between drawers and airports/ for her hair.” Readers new to the poet will find the momentum and energy of Al-Sayegh’s writing vital and unforgettable. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 10/15/2020
Release date: 12/01/2020
Genre: Poetry
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