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Come, Take a Gentle Stab: Selected Poems (The Arab List)

Come, Take a Gentle Stab: Selected Poems (The Arab List)

Current price: $17.00
Publication Date: March 8th, 2023
Seagull Books
Special Order - Subject to Availability


Introduces renowned Kurdish-Syrian writer Salim Barkat to an English audience for the first time, with translated selections from his most acclaimed works of poetry.

Although Salim Barakat is one of the most renowned and respected contemporary writers in Arabic letters, he remains virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. This first collection of his poetry in English, representing every stage of his career, remedies that startling omission. Come, Take a Gentle Stab features selections from his most acclaimed works of poetry, including excerpts from his book-length poems, rendered into an English that captures the exultation of language for which he is famous.
A Kurdish-Syrian man, Barakat chose to write in Arabic, the language of cultural and political hegemony that has marginalized his people. Like Paul Celan, he mastered the language of the oppressor to such an extent that the course of the language itself has been compelled to bend to his will. Barakat pushes Arabic to a point just beyond its linguistic limits, stretching those limits. He resists coherence, but never destroys it, pulling back before the final blow. What results is a figurative abstraction of struggle, as alive as the struggle itself. And always beneath the surface of this roiling water one can glimpse the deep currents of ancient Kurdish culture.

About the Author

Salim Barakat is a Kurdish-Syrian writer who is considered one of the most innovative poets and novelists writing in the Arabic language. He has published dozens of novels and collections of poetry.

Jayson Iwen is the author of several books. He is professor of writing and English literature at The University of Wisconsin–Superior.

Praise for Come, Take a Gentle Stab: Selected Poems (The Arab List)

"Kurdish, reclusive, demanding, inventive to the point of miracle, prolific to the point of cataracts—in the republic of Arabic letters, Salim Barakat stands apart."
— 4Columns

“Barakat’s exceedingly resistant and exhilaratingly strange verse—paradoxically written by someone who seems absolutely rooted to the depths of the earth while yet able to see humanity as if through the mind of some other being, perhaps language itself—is finally available to English readers. One can only hope that Huda Fakhreddine and Jayson Iwen’s resounding translation summons greater interest in the work of this astonishing modern master.”
— Ammiel Alcalay, poet, scholar, critic, and translator