Amal Al Jubouri’s poems are essentially about exile, exile from the country of her youth, exile from peace, from love, from normalcy, from hope. They are courageous, honest, bitter, and beautiful.
“ Herein is a river of condensed images, mighty in accumulation. A fury so desperate it is clear: this is a poet singing from deep pangs of agony. A poet who wants every single poem to say something for the last time...With this collection, Amal Al Jubouri enters the eminent company of Emily Dickinson and Emily Bronté, writers distinguished for exposing universal tragedy through the woman’s experience: love forever hovers with its brilliant wings, but likely in vain. “
“ [Al Jubouri’s] new poems capture in her richly sonorous lyric voice a blending of personal memories with evocations of historic and mythological Mesopotamian figures, particularly those of Enheduanna. She hears the ancient voice of pain echoing through the ages in her country's contemporary suffering and internal and external exiles. She has captured the deep yearning and resonating sadness of the Iraqi soul. She is becoming a major lyric voice in the Arab scene and perhaps, given the cultural wealth of her civilization and its profound themes, a poet for the world stage. “
“ Epigrammatic and riddling, impassioned and furious, crystalline in its irony, Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation evokes a woman's body and mind rooted in geography, history, faith, art, and the bitterness of 'All the wars, one war / One terror.' It is the most exciting and original book of pure poetry I have read in a long time. The Iraqi poet Amal Al Jubouri, beautifully translated by Rebecca Gayle Howell, will immediately take her place alongside Neruda and Tsvetaeva and Celan—poets of exile, yes, and poets of difficult truth. “
“ Amal Al Jubouri’s poems are essentially about exile, exile from the country of her youth, exile from peace, from love, from normalcy, from hope. They are courageous, honest, bitter, and beautiful. They are as ghosts, wandering over the rivers, looking for a home. I want to ask forgiveness of these ghosts. And rock them to sleep. I bless the Iraqi dead, as she does. “
“ Through these poems, Amal al-Jubouri connects us to the earliest known poems, and yet the dialectic tension between them is utterly contemporary. Al-Jubouri writes "This is my protest, this is my folly," yet these poems are neither simple protest nor in any sense folly. These poems are both essential and eternal. “
“ Poet and translator Rebecca Howell, together with Husam Qaisi, have transported Amal Al Jubouri’s moving cri de Coeur across the precarious bridge between Arabic and English, and the cultural, political and ethical chasm separating Iraq and the United States. This is poetry necessary to our times, and we owe the makers of this work in English an enormous debt of gratitude. “