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Landscapes of Iraqi Poetry: Reconfiguring the Image of Iraq in the Arabic (and American) Lyric Canon

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AbstractThis article explores the construction of Iraq as lyric object in the poetry of Badr Shākir al-Sayyāb, Mahmūd Darwīsh, Sadī Yūsuf, and Sinān Antūn. I argue that there is a clear sense of ambivalence for these poets over how to represent Iraq; the country emerges in their verse as both an unmarred idyll and as a landscape of wretchedness and despair. In putting these Arabic works in dialogue with the anti-war poems of the American writer Brian Turner, I suggest the ways in which comparative analysis between these two canons can help us move beyond nostalgic representations of Iraq and the U.S. as civilizational others, and push us toward more constructive forms of cross-cultural exchange.

Affiliations: 1: Williams College, URL:


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