"Yesterday I lost a country," Dunya Mikhail writes in "The War Works Hard", a subversive, sobering work by an exiled Iraqi poet, and her first collection to appear in English. Compassionate, engaged and direct, Mikhail's is a voice that transcends boundaries, and one that has rarely seemed more necessary. Dunya Mikhail writes an Arabic poetry for the twenty-first century - urgent and painful, composed our of successive experiences of violence and exile. She remakes the traditional forms and imagery of Arabic poetry to give voice to women's experience of war, to the experiences of lovers, children and mothers, those whose vulnerability is also the tenacious humanity that gives hope of survival and new beginnings. An Iraqi, now living in the United States, Mikhail writes and speaks in Arabic, Arameic and English. Her literary inheritance embraces ancient myths, the sacred books of Christianity and Islam, and Western modernism, and she inhabits cultures that range from deep-rooted traditions to the brutalities of modern states. Mikhail has collaborated closely with the translator Elizabeth Winslow in publishing this collection.
Dunya Mikhail was born in 1965 and educated at Baghdad University. She worked as Literary Editor for The Baghdad Observer. Facing increasing harassment from the authorities for her writings, Mikhail left her native Iraq in the 1990s, travelling first to Jordan, and then the US, where she studied Near Eastern Studies at Wayne State University. She speaks and writes in Arabic, Aramaic and English. In 2001, she was awarded the UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She has published four collections in Arabic, and one lyrical, multi-genre text, The Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea.