Dunya Mikhail’s “The War Works Hard”

Fallujah, Iraq. Steelworker 3rd Class Robert Sprague ties together rebar before a concrete placement on a bridge project.
Fallujah, Iraq. Steelworker 3rd Class Robert Sprague ties together rebar before a concrete placement on a bridge project.

Dunya Mikhail was born in Iraq and has published six collections of poetry in her native Arabic. Her book, The War Works Hard, from which the title poem included below is taken, was translated into English by Elizabeth Winslow and published in 2005 by New Directions Press. Mikhail’s poetry is strongly critical of war in her native Iraq and scrutinizes the effects of the U.S.-Iraq wars on the Iraqi people, the land, and its culture. Markedly different than other masculine Iraqi poets of her generation, Mikhail’s tone indirectly points fingers at the forces of greed, corruption, and martyrdom that characterize both the U.S. and Iraqi governments. Mikhail currently works as an Arabic instructor at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.

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