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Solmaz Sharif. Graywolf (FSG, dist.), $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-55597-744-3

Sharif defies power, silence, and categorization in this stunning suite of poems and lyric sequences that examine the toll of war and the language of war on persons and tongues. Drawing upon the lexicon of the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, Sharif produces a document of her Iranian family history, her personal life, and a shared cultural history intertwined with war and surveillance: “Daily I sit/ with the language/ they’ve made// of our language// to NEUTRALIZE/ the CAPABILITY of LOW DOLLAR VALUE ITEMS/ like you.” Elegies for her Amoo (uncle), who was killed in the Iran-Iraq War, share space with lists of war atrocities and the banalities of military life, lyric poems about her immigrant family’s experiences of surveillance, excoriations of Israeli apartheid and war crimes, and redacted letters to a detainee. Sharif returns repeatedly to the DOD dictionary terms, resulting in brief, fragmented, and powerful accounts of terror: “they LOOK down from their jets and declare my mother’s Abadan block PROBABLY DESTROYED, we walked by the villas, the faces of buildings torn off into dioramas, and recorded it on a hand-held camcorder.” In form, content, and execution, Sharif’s debut is arguably the most noteworthy book of poetry yet about recent U.S.-led wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the greater Middle East. (July)