Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Carcanet Press, 2011
Plague Lands and Other Poems is the first collection of Fawzi Karim’s poetry to appear in English. The long sequence ‘Plague Land’ is an elegy for the life of a lost city, a chronicle of a journey into exile, haunted by the deep history of an ancient civilisation. Memories of Baghdad’s smoke-filled cafés, its alleys and mulberry-shaded squares, ‘the tang of tea, of coffee beans…arak, naphthalene, damp straw mats’, are recalled with painful intensity. Rejecting dogma and polemic, Karim’s defiant humanity makes him a necessary poet for fractured times.
Versions by Anthony Howell after translations by Abbas Kadhim.
Fawzi Karim (1945-2019) was a well-known Iraqi poet, writer and painter. Born in Baghdad in 1945, he was educated at Baghdad University before embarking on a career as a freelance writer. He lived in Lebanon from 1969-1972 and has lived in London since 1978. The Ivory Tower, his column on poetry and European classical music has appeared in a number of influential Arabic newspapers and is respected for its emphasis on the transcendent value of art and culture. He has published more than twenty three books of poetry, including a two volume Collected Poems (2000), The Foundling Years (2003), The Last Gypsies (2005), Night of Abel Alaa (2008), The Empty Quarter (2014) and What The poetry is, but a Slip of The Tongue (2016). He is also the author of sixteen books of prose, including The Emperor’s Clothes: On Poetry (2000), Diary of The End of a Nightmare (2005), Gods the Companion, on music (2009), Pastures of Cactus, short stories (2015). The Music and Poetry (2014), The Music and Painting (2014) and a novel Who is Afraid of The Copper City (2016).