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The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology Paperback – June 15, 2015

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"The anthology was prepared to eradicate invisibility," writes Nathalie Handal (The Never Field) of Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology. With research help from groups like RAWI (Radius of Arab-American Writers, Inc.) and from Arab-American newspapers and journals like Al Jadid, Handal has gathered work from "most of the older and newer contemporary voices" of the Arab diaspora over 80 poets writing in Arabic, French, English and other languages, and living in Syria, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Yemen, Gaza and the U.S. Handal's introduction, along with biographical notes on the poets and many translators, helps to place them.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

The Arab world's poetic tradition predates Islam, but it was through the social revolution of Islam that it became possible to be a poet, an Arab, and a woman. Ancient Arab women are sometimes anthologized, but contemporary poets don't get the attention that they deserve and that this ambitious volume begins to give them. These poems were garnered from throughout the world and translated from Arabic, French, and other languages by many hands. Some of the featured poets have lived their whole lives outside the Arab world, and although many rely on Arab poetic traditions and forms, the "Arabness" of others is subtler. The book's contents vary in quality, for established poets like Naomi Shihab Nye are juxtaposed with little-known American graduate students. Yet out of a cacophony of voices, styles, and visions, deeper understanding of what it means to be an Arab and a poet can be obtained. Although it can be criticized for favoring breadth over depth, this anthology answers a long-felt need, and its arrival should be celebrated. John Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 355 pages
  • Publisher: Interlink Pub Group; Second Printing edition (June 15, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566563747
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566563741
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #861,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 12, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The editor of this book, Nathalie Handal, deserves commendation for her work. If you hold the common view of Arab women as submissive and repressed beings, this book might be the thing for you. Even though repression and sexual discrimination may be harsher in Arab societies than in our Western world, that seems to be only one side of reality. What this anthology shows us is strong-willed, sensitive and opinionated women, who are also highly skilled in that most demanding of crafts - poetry. Inevitably, some of the poems are better than others. But the first alone justify buying the book, for they are VERY good. The translations are also (as far as one can ascertain through taste and personal intuition) good, with the possible exception of Munia Samara's poems, where the translator several times seems to refer to a city as both "it" and "she", occassionally in the same line: "It has not surrendered her keys to one prophet", "it opens its windows / and throws a bone / to the barking Napoleon around her walls".
Notwithstanding these minor flaws, the book is enjoyable and worthwhile as a field guide for discovering the fascination of the Arab world and its remarkable women poets.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hortensia Anderson on January 13, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I purchased this wonderful volume as a result of the war - I wanted to get inside the creative mind of Arab women. And I have found that poetry is the way to do it. Nathalie Handel has given us a real gift - a book filled with beautiful, strong poetry.

These are a just a few examples to whet your appetite from a substantial body of breathtaking poetry:

Zakiyya Malallah from Qatar:

"She picks me

and reconstitutes my colours."

"You treasure me on your lips,

I burst like a swing

and dangle like fragrance."

or Habiba Muhammadi from Algeria:

"No one can stand

In the face of the sun

It alone knows

Th way to the sunset."

"The hearts raided by loneliness

lead the conquests of the word."
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Hala Innab on January 5, 2002
Format: Paperback
Arab women have been writing poetry since the dawn of time. Reading modern poerty by Arab women however is a delight. This book encompasses poems that reveal the struggle of being an Arab in the U.S, the struggle of migration, war, occupation, and the struggle of cultural identity.
I highly recommend this book to those who love poetry and those who wish to understand what it means to be an Arabic women living in the United States.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on May 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
Under the able editorship of Nathalie Handal, The Poetry Of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology stands as a monument to the manifold literary of Arab women as poets and wordsmiths evoking images and rhythms of language born of their experience, art, and imagination. Of special note is the lengthy introduction, followed by representative selections from more than 80 Arab. women of diverse backgrounds and life experiences. The Blind Goddess: And the blind goddess, when we touched her/like a twinkling of the eye./On the dry shore her hurried gait.../And in her face when sun and moon quarreled,/and in her step when the sea pecked a drop of life/the water receded--having become pregnant--for a time./How can the letter be Seeing, Omnipotent./a peer to the bleated, jealous god./And in the blind goddess when she dimmed/and the earth came to be/and it was the insolence of the ages. (Fadhila Chabbi).
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