Sinan Antoon
The Baghdad Blues

ISBN 9780978600945
Poetry | 5"x8", 48 pages, perfectbound| $10 includes shipping

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"Antoon finds that agony is agony regardless of your GPS coordinates. But his book is not pure pain. Antoon also sings of love. . . . Antoon has turned the sick city into a mirror of the world at large, where desire and disaster are never far apart."
Time Magazine

"Baghdad Blues shares with war poetry, especially that of World War I, the sense of underlying shock and horror at the human cruelty and waste. But, Antoon’s poetry is more nightmarish. It starts with enormous schizophrenic intimations of a self caught between repression, fear, and resignation under a dictatorial role, to end up amid scenes of horror that have become the legacy of the 2003 invasion and occupation. Sinan Antoon’s Blues snatches its images from among metal, armor, deserted places, explosions, to build up an identity for an Iraqi soul in a world which is drifting fast into horror which Joseph Conrad-Kurtz’ cry cannot fathom or reach. As befitting the title, sound summons its power from everything in Iraq: from the dictatorial decrees and their demand for appreciative applause, to the air, sea, and land bombardments and explosions. The agonized soul has to cope up with these by its music, its beats of the heart as it perceives all from a hole somewhere, a hole that might offer a glimpse, perhaps of hope, that the poet calls Baghdad Blues."
—Muhsin al-Musawi, Professor of Arabic Literature at Columbia University and author of Arabic Poetry: Trajectories of Modernity and Tradition and Reading Iraq: Culture and Power in Conflict

Interviews

at Democracy Now!

About Sinan Antoon

Sinan Antoon's teaching and research interests lie in pre-modern Arabo-Islamic culture and contemporary Arab culture and politics. His dissertation, "The Poetics of the Obscene," is the first study of the 10th-century Arab poet Ibn al-Hajjaj. His poems and essays (in Arabic) have appeared in as-Safir, al-Adab, and Masharef and in the Nation, Middle East Report, Al-Ahram Weekly, Banipal, Journal of Palestine Studies, World Literature Today, and Ploughshares, among others. He has published a collection of poems, The Baghdad Blues (Harbor Mountain Press, 2007) and a novel, I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody (City Lights, 2007), which has been translated into German, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Italian. His poetry was anthologized in Iraqi Poetry Today and in Inclined to Speak: Arab-American Poetry. His cotranslation of Mahmoud Darwish's poetry was nominated for the PEN Prize for translation in 2004 and his translation of Darwish's last prose book, In the Presence of Absence, is forthcoming from Archipelago Books in 2010. He returned to his native Baghdad in 2003 as a member of InCounter Productions to codirect a documentary, About Baghdad, about the lives of Iraqis in a post-Saddam-occupied Iraq. He is on the advisory board of Arab Studies Journal, a contributing editor to Banipal, and a member of the editorial committee of Middle East Report. In 2008 and 2009, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the EUME (Europe in the Middle East - The Middle East in Europe) program at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Antoon has appeared on NPR, al-Jazeera English, and The Charlie Rose Show.