What’s new?

Elizabeth Winslow, translated from the Arabic written by Dunya Mikhail

copyright ©2006

I saw a Ghost pass in the mirror.
Someone whispered something in my ear.
I said a word, and left.
Graves were scattered with mandrake seeds.
A bleating sound entered the assembly.
Gardens remained hanging.
Straw was scattered with the words.
No fruit is left.
Someone climbed on the shoulders of another.
Someone descended into the netherworld.
Other things are happening
in secret.
I don’t know what they are—
This is everything.

Notes on the Poem

For the next few months, our Poem of the Week will highlight poetry in translation, featuring excerpts from our shortlisted and winning collections. This week’s poem, “What’s New?,” is excerpted from the 2006 shortlisted collection, The War Works Hard, by Elizabeth Winslow translated from the Arabic written by Dunya Mikhail. Of the collection, the judges, say; “These are political poems without political rhetoric, Arabic poems without Arabic poetical flourishes, an exile’s letter with neither nostalgia nor self-pity, an excavation of the ruins of her homeland where the Sumerian goddess Inana is followed on the next page by the little American devil Lynndie England. In Elizabeth Winslow’s perfect translations, poetry takes on its ancient function of restoring meaning to the language. Here is the war in Iraq in English without a single lie.” Listen to Dunya Mikhael read in this 92Y reading.

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