Paperback: 66 pages
Publisher: Poetry Translation Centre (World Poet Series), 2023
Language: Arabic & English
Mona Kareem is a stateless poet, born in Kuwait, whose work has been internationally acclaimed for its power and immediacy ever since she published her first collection at the age of 14. Her writing comes out of the experience of growing up with ‘Bidoon’ status (from ‘bidoon jinsiya’ or ‘without nationality’); an Arab minority denied Kuwaiti citizenship rights, who were categorised as ‘illegal residents’ and stripped of their access to employment, education, social welfare and official documentation a year before her birth.
Her poems are surreal, relying heavily on vivid metaphors, often to bridge the gap between the self and what lies outside the self. They enact a boundless porosity between the body, nature, and the material world. Kareem plays with language to explore the infinite depths of human experience and identity. These poems, with dates, times and places obscured, present us with new maps of precarious, unstable, and permeable geopolitics. Kareem delineates ‘rupture’ as a facet of the migrant’s experience.
Translated by Sara Elkamel.
Mona Kareem is the author of three poetry collections. Her poetry has been translated into nine languages, and appeared (in English) in: POETRY, Poetry Northwest, Michigan Quarterly, Poetry London and Modern Poetry in Translation, among others. She is a recipient of a 2021 literary grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. Kareem holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and works as an assistant professor of Middle East Studies at Washington University St. Louis. Her translations include Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within (nominated for a BTBA award), Ra’ad Abdulqadir’s Except for this Unseen Thread, and Octavia Butler’s Kindred.