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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Brian Turner’s “Sadiq”

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Brian Turner served in the U.S. Army in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iraq before receiving his MFA from the University of Oregon. Winner of the Beatrice Hawley Award for 2005, Here, Bullet is a remarkable twenty-first century collection of poems written during wartime. What makes Turner’s poetry so unusual and striking is his attention to language, his knowledge of Iraq’s history and its themes (which his poems become a part of), and his ability to let his poems just hang off the edge of their own cliffs.

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