Postcards from the Underworld
A chilling poetic reflection on the world we have inherited and the destructions that made it.
To confront time, pre-modern Arabic poems often began with the poet standing before the ruins, real and imagined, of a beloved’s home. In Postcards from the Underworld, Sinan Antoon works in that tradition, observing the detritus of his home city, Baghdad, where he survived two wars—the Iran-Iraq War of 1980 and the First Gulf War of 1991—and which, after he left, he watched from afar being attacked during the US invasion in 2003. Antoon’s poems confront violence and force us not to look away as he traces death’s haunting presence in the world. Nature offers consolation, and flowers and butterflies are the poet’s interlocutors, but they too cannot escape ruin. Composed in Arabic and translated into English by the poet himself, Postcards from the Underworld is a searing meditation on the destruction of humans, habitats, and homes.
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