Marwa Helal

Five Poems: Winner of BOMB's Poetry Contest, selected by Bhanu Kapil.

These days, I am less interested in the sentence that is flooded with light than I am in the part of one that lets us know, as we read, what it is to experience otherness and strangeness. That is precisely what happened when I came across the poems of Marwa Helal. Displacement, trauma, and the desire for cultural and institutional revenge happen simultaneously in these poems. Helal has given us poems that speak, obey something beyond the page, and scream. In these visceral and deeply political poems, she is dreaming a radical modernity, marking the raw bits of love, community, and loss when and as they come. Sometimes, Helal suggests, the archive is “an alibi,” and in the writing of it, the writer becomes a beast, the person who is never “coming back.”

—Bhanu Kapil

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