Dunya Mikhail with Claudia Castro Luna & Tynan Kogane
We are delighted and honored to present this evening with Michigan-based Iraqi poet and journalist Dunya Mikhail. She is the author of three extraordinary volumes of poetry that have been translated from the Arabic to English—The War Works Hard, Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea, and The Iraqi Nights (all New Directions)—which she’ll begin the evening with, reading in the Arabic original with Washington Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna reading the English translations.
The evening will then proceed to Dunya Mikhail presenting her profoundly powerful non-fiction work, The Beekeeper: Rescuing the Stolen Women of Iraq (New Directions, translated by Max Weiss). In this book, Dunya Mikhail interviews and gives voice to women who were captured, raped, tortured, and otherwise brutalized by Daesh (ISIS), and managed, one way and another, to survive and escape. She also tells stories of those who risked much to help rescue them. It is hard reading, but there is a great undercurrent of the will to live and be free, so evident in the women who speak here.
“Mikhail bears witness to them and other women in war-torn Iraq, women who have scarcely known peace throughout their lives. That she is a poet is clear on each page. A powerful study.” —Kirkus Reviews.
“A searing portrait of courage.” —New York Times Book Review.
Of Dunya Mikhail’s poetry, Pierre Joris writes, “Here is the new Iraqi poetry: a poetry of urgency that has no time for the traditional (in Arab poetry) flowers of rhetoric; terse, unadorned, stripped & ironic, Dunya Mikhail’s lines move at the speed of events—be it war or love. Here the fierceness of the public life meshes with the hard-won tenderness of the private, in a passionate dialectic that makes her voice the inescapable voice of Arab poetry today.”
The Beekeeper portion of the evening will be introduced by Tynan Kogane, who is Dunya Mikhail’s editor at New Directions for this book, as well as the editor of several other excellent New Directions books.