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The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology

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Arab women poets work within one of the oldest literary traditions in the world, yet they are virtually unknown in the West. Uniting Arab women poets from the all over the Arab World anti abroad, Nathalie Handal has put together an outstanding collection that introduces poets who write in Arabic, French, English, and Swedish, among them some of the twentieth century's most Arab women poets work within one of the oldest literary traditions in the world, yet they are virtually unknown in the West. Uniting Arab women poets from the all over the Arab World anti abroad, Nathalie Handal has put together an outstanding collection that introduces poets who write in Arabic, French, English, and Swedish, among them some of the twentieth century's most accomplished poets and today's most exciting new voices.Translated by distinguished translators and poets from around the world, The Poetry of Arab Women showcases the work of 82 poets, among them: Etel Adnan, Andre Chedid, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Fadwa Tuqan.


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Arab women poets work within one of the oldest literary traditions in the world, yet they are virtually unknown in the West. Uniting Arab women poets from the all over the Arab World anti abroad, Nathalie Handal has put together an outstanding collection that introduces poets who write in Arabic, French, English, and Swedish, among them some of the twentieth century's most Arab women poets work within one of the oldest literary traditions in the world, yet they are virtually unknown in the West. Uniting Arab women poets from the all over the Arab World anti abroad, Nathalie Handal has put together an outstanding collection that introduces poets who write in Arabic, French, English, and Swedish, among them some of the twentieth century's most accomplished poets and today's most exciting new voices.Translated by distinguished translators and poets from around the world, The Poetry of Arab Women showcases the work of 82 poets, among them: Etel Adnan, Andre Chedid, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Fadwa Tuqan.

30 review for The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology

  1. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    I write the disappointments of distances —Wafaa Lamrani * Jerusalem, fold me like a handkerchief into your bosom. I am one word in a lover's letter, a chip of blue tile in your sky. Even those who have never seen you walk your streets at night. —Lisa Suhair Majaj * Words flow through my fingers like stars, pattern the sea. Vowels swim like fish. Each dawn I cast my net, reel in silver coils, rinse brine from my name. —Lisa Suhair Majaj * It is memories that hide you in a small bottle until thirst fills your being a I write the disappointments of distances —Wafaa Lamrani * Jerusalem, fold me like a handkerchief into your bosom. I am one word in a lover's letter, a chip of blue tile in your sky. Even those who have never seen you walk your streets at night. —Lisa Suhair Majaj * Words flow through my fingers like stars, pattern the sea. Vowels swim like fish. Each dawn I cast my net, reel in silver coils, rinse brine from my name. —Lisa Suhair Majaj * It is memories that hide you in a small bottle until thirst fills your being and you fall in pain drop after drop — Houda al-Namani * When my soul is overrun by the yearnings for my self, do I find it reflected in other's eyes? Maybe... [...] When we deny it when I erase you from my being and when you erase me. Does myself still remain myself? — Thurayya al-Urayyid

  2. 4 out of 5

    Zaha Gheryania-shtewi

    An anthology that includes poets of a rare demographic, Arab women. It seems like our narrative is constantly written for us, edited and handed over, all bound and glossy...we're expected to smile and swallow it without any sugar to help it go down easy. I'm glad that Handal was able to put together this collection, it might be especially helpful for those who might not understand the brown female experience. For writers like me who fit the description, I was surprised at how similar my own work An anthology that includes poets of a rare demographic, Arab women. It seems like our narrative is constantly written for us, edited and handed over, all bound and glossy...we're expected to smile and swallow it without any sugar to help it go down easy. I'm glad that Handal was able to put together this collection, it might be especially helpful for those who might not understand the brown female experience. For writers like me who fit the description, I was surprised at how similar my own work was to these women..not in skill (I have a long way to go) but in the way we spin our tales, our observations. The only criticism I have, and I'm not sure if it could have been helped, but I wish there were more writings from countries that don't have the most celebrated literary scenes. I loved the Syrian & Iraqi poets but where were the Sudani, Libyan, or Saudi poets? I understand that this requires a bit more research and labor but I believe it would have been worth it, maybe in time. Nonetheless, a beautiful read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Malak Alrashed

    Pretty insightful. It introduced me to so many Arabic female poets whom I didn't know at all. I noticed, though, that the voices of these women sound pretty similar to one another. I think it tells us a lot of how our poetry is restricted and still not completely free. Recommended for anyone who is interested in the history of Arabic Female Poetry. It has a good introduction of how it all started followed by lots of poems. Pretty insightful. It introduced me to so many Arabic female poets whom I didn't know at all. I noticed, though, that the voices of these women sound pretty similar to one another. I think it tells us a lot of how our poetry is restricted and still not completely free. Recommended for anyone who is interested in the history of Arabic Female Poetry. It has a good introduction of how it all started followed by lots of poems.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sincerae

    A very good collection of poetry by Arab women writers from across North Africa, the Middle East, and the diaspora. The poetry spans most of the 20th century. To get an idea of the origins and influences of modern Arab women poetry I recommend that both the preface and especially the introduction are read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thekra

    i'm so impressed! arab women are so talented and i'm glad to know new arab poets to read more about there poetry i'm so impressed! arab women are so talented and i'm glad to know new arab poets to read more about there poetry

  6. 4 out of 5

    Camille

    Generally I think I expected more from this anthology. While its breadth of writers is huge, and definitely interesting, the quality and variety of poetry varies a lot. That said, there are some amazing writers int his collection, and given how understudied women poets are, particularly Arab women poets, this anthology breaks new ground in providing a lens into current writers for the English reading crowd.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Josephina Kilzi

    As much as I wished it was written in its original language, Arabic, I enjoyed reading this book quite a lot. The collection of poetry is beautifully added, and the effort of translation is remarkable. Give it a read, Western world!

  8. 4 out of 5

    lkh0ja

    A lovely anthology full of poets I'd never encountered before. I really enjoyed reading it and seeing how rich Arab poetry is. A lovely anthology full of poets I'd never encountered before. I really enjoyed reading it and seeing how rich Arab poetry is.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    What Nathalie Handal has done as an editor is revolutionary for the future of Arab identity. Handal has given Arab women as well as Arab women of the diaspora a safe place where they can all converse. In this contemporary anthology, nearly one hundred Arab women share the same space in the same language, existing geographically next to each other without barriers. Language, while crucial to the construction of this anthology, is also a very common theme within these narratives. Whether that is a What Nathalie Handal has done as an editor is revolutionary for the future of Arab identity. Handal has given Arab women as well as Arab women of the diaspora a safe place where they can all converse. In this contemporary anthology, nearly one hundred Arab women share the same space in the same language, existing geographically next to each other without barriers. Language, while crucial to the construction of this anthology, is also a very common theme within these narratives. Whether that is a language barrier, having a language but being discouraged from speaking, or losing a language to another. Language, to these women, is power. Another common element weaved throughout these poems is food. Food, for some, is the only part of their culture that some had access to. Foods such as zaatar, grape leaves, hommos, almonds, figs, etc. continually find their way within each poem, proving that the culture is one.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Raghad Al-Rifai

    I really like this book, but as an Arab woman who wears the hijab, I find it rather uncomfortable to read in the introduction about how movements against veiling are supporting feminism, and no, the veil is not culture, it’s part of religion, as opposed to what is mentioned in the book. I think feminism would be more about the supporting of the freedom of a woman to choose her clothing without being pressured. That would’ve been better. Moreover, I found a lot of translated poems a little hard t I really like this book, but as an Arab woman who wears the hijab, I find it rather uncomfortable to read in the introduction about how movements against veiling are supporting feminism, and no, the veil is not culture, it’s part of religion, as opposed to what is mentioned in the book. I think feminism would be more about the supporting of the freedom of a woman to choose her clothing without being pressured. That would’ve been better. Moreover, I found a lot of translated poems a little hard to understand. So many poems were absolutely ethereal however. My absolute favorites are “Of Woman Torn” by Suheir Hamad (page 114) and “Somnambulist” by Adele Ne Jame (page 240).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Mariah Wamby

    This was a wonderful collection that introduced me to a world of new artists. My main complaint is that the introduction was so long that by the time I reached the poems, I felt I lost a lot of the context and information from the introduction. I wish the information in the introduction had been broken up more through the collection, rather than given all at once in the beginning.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Antonio Delgado

    A necessary anthology and a great introduction to an often ignored poetry tradition. Every poems and every poet feels contemporary of our common humanity. Every page takes us deeper into seeing our fragile existence.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Heather Forensky

    I'm not used to reading Arab poetry, but it was a decent interest to start. I'm not used to reading Arab poetry, but it was a decent interest to start.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lorelei Armstrong

    Gorgeous. Had to stop turning down page corners or I would never have gotten it to close.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Chrissy

    Browsed through, reading occasional poems. Particularly liked Habiba Muhammadi.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Yasin

    I don't think this is an anthology of the best and brightest pieces to choose from - some are lyrically dull and others are too politically charged. I guess that's what was en vogue to western ears at the time of publication. I don't think this is an anthology of the best and brightest pieces to choose from - some are lyrically dull and others are too politically charged. I guess that's what was en vogue to western ears at the time of publication.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Doann Houghton-Alico

    Terrific! Moving, poignant, revealing.

  18. 4 out of 5

    D

    Fabulous anthology, I earmarked so many poems in here.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zohra Star

    One of the best anthologies of Arab women poets.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    892.71608 P7457 2001

  21. 4 out of 5

    Maria

  22. 5 out of 5

    Khamis Alayali

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nathaniel

  25. 5 out of 5

    Victor Cioban

  26. 5 out of 5

    Louise

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christina

  28. 5 out of 5

    Huda

  29. 4 out of 5

    Subhajit Das

  30. 4 out of 5

    Deema

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