Monday, April 6, 2009

Flowers of Flame reveals Iraqi life during wartime

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 8:12 PM

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Americans seldom expend much hype, or even attention, on poetry. But in some parts of the world, poets command national significance. The anthology Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq proves that poets can even be important enough to kill.

One of the book’s contributors, Abn Al-Hassan Al-Shatr, disappeared in 1981 and is believed to have been executed by Saddam Hussein’s regime for political reasons. Flowers of Flame includes his “Brine on the Wings of Seagulls.” Knowing Al-Shatr’s likely fate adds enormous authority to the poem’s imagery of freedom and loss against the backdrop of a slave uprising.

Few volumes of verse involve such high stakes as Flowers of Flame, the first collection of Iraqi poetry since the war and occupation. Edited by the Atlanta Review’s Dan Veach, along with Sadek Mohammed, Soheil Najm and Haider Al-Kabi, the book features contributions from 35 writers, four of whom are women. Many wrote under unimaginably difficult conditions in Iraq, others while living in exile. On April 8, Callanwolde Conservatory celebrates the book with a poetry reading with recitations from the book by such local luminaries as Kodac Harrison, Melody Moezzi, Ginger Murchison, Stephen Bluestone, Ruth Windham and Veach.

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