Chosen by Tim Seibles for The Hilary Tham Capital Collection. Brian Turner says Sullivan listens across cultures and across languages in order to undo the erasures of time and power, calling this a book of compassion and deep humanity. Poems spring from inspirations as various as paintings by Iraqi painters, the voices of Iraqi poets, co-translation projects with poets living there or in exile, and daily life in Iraq itself. Co-translations comprise one section of the collection and give a priceless cross-section of Iraqi poets today. Says Seibles: David Allen Sullivan gives us an intimate tour of war-torn Iraq, an intricate look at the minds of people for whom military violence had become a defining part of daily life. Because these figures speak with such authority and desperation, reading this collection disrupts and deepens the way we, who have not lived with war, perceive its terrible damage. The poems are at times poignantly lyrical and in other moments darkly magical--as if the reader has somehow entered the poet's more than real dreamscape. I don't know if art can save us from self-annihilation, but to echo Muriel Rukeyser slightly: David Allen Sullivan's poetry is the kind of thing that might help us back away from the brink. Lola Haskins adds: Sullivan's book left me in a state of shock and awe: shocked by the terrible sufferings of the Iraqi people, and awed by the high and heart-breaking grace of the survivors who present them. For me, the most resonant word in the poems is 'blood, ' not because it's so often used, but because of its double meanings: the literal--the substance in all our veins that's essential to life, and the figurative--'family, ' which is the heart the whole collection wears on its metaphoric sleeve: that we are all, wherever we come from, family.
Poetry. Middle Eastern Studies.