The Poetry of Arab Women

This recent volume showcases the work of over eighty accomplished and emerging Arab women poets. With the exception of Oman and Sudan, every Arab country is represented here, as are Arab women in exile or living in non-Arab countries and women poets of Arab descent from Europe and North America.

Inclusion is one of the book's primary stated purposes. Still, reviewers at Booklist criticized the book for "emphasizing breadth over depth." As editor Nathalie Handal says in the preface:

"This anthology was prepared to eradicate invisibility: to provide an introduction to Arab women poets, to make visible the works of a great number of Arab women poets who are virtually unknown to the West, to make visible how many Arab American women poets are marginalized within the American literary and ethnic scenes, and to demonstrate the wide diversity of Arab women's poetry . . ."

Individual poets represented here include Etel Adnan, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sabah al-Kharrat Zwein.

A helpful thirty-page introduction, with a focus on geography and history, helps to contextualize the poetry. Biographical notes of the poets and translators--as well as a listing of poets by country--are also useful, and will ideally lead readers to more in-depth explorations of individual poets.

Although the poems vary in style and scope, there is nevertheless the feeling that this volume begins to give voice to Arab women poets, an often-unheard group.