Nostalgia, My Enemy

Nostalgia, My Enemy
Saadi Youssef, Translated from the Arabic by Sinan Antoon and Peter Money
"[Youssef's] poetry is inseparable from Iraq's recent turbulent history but it also captures the eternal and ephemeral moments of existence. . . . Antoon and Money's translations capture the tender, ephemeral quality of the original, receptive to every nuance of the Arabic."—Banipal
"Saadi Youssef's poems in Nostalgia, My Enemy maintain much of the lucidity and rage that must be present in the original Arabic. . . . Youssef [has the] ability to tackle the personal as well as the political, all with a light, lyrical hand."—Hazel and Wren

About the Book

New poetry by Iraqi poet Saadi Youssef, one of the major voices from the Arab world

The country we love was finished
before it was even born.
The country we did not love has claimed
the blood left in our veins.
—from “A Desperate Poem”

This book collects some of the best of Saadi Youssef’s most recent poems from the last decade, since the ongoing American-led war in his home country of Iraq. In direct, penetrating language, translated from the original Arabic by Sinan Antoon and Peter Money, Youssef’s poems dwell on the casualties of the war, the loss of his country, the role of the writer in exile, the atrocities of Saddam Hussein, and the inhumane acts perpetrated by American military at Abu Ghraib. What emerges is the powerful voice of a writer for whom “Poetry transforms in that intimate moment which combines the current and the eternal in a wondrous embrace.”

Additional Reviews

“One of the greatest living poets writing in Arabic. . . . Youssef’s poems are heart-rending love letters to a country that has been brutalized by violence and ethnic strife.”Wasafiri

"Ever since I read Saadi Youssef he became the closest to my poetic taste. One finds the lucidity of a watercolor painting in his transparent poems and the rhythm of daily life in their soft tone. . . Saadi Youssef, whose poetry is in dialogue with the history of poetry, is like no other Arab poet."—Mahmoud Darwish

“Saadi Youssef was born in Iraq, but he has become, through the vicissitudes of history and the cosmopolitan appetites of his mind, a poet, not only of the Arab, but of the human universe.”—Marilyn Hacker

"There's a mournful sensibility to this poetry that reflects on the tragedy of Iraq and the loss of a homeland. Yet the poems are not tragic—they are uplifting compositions and a triumph of beauty over despair. Incandescent language makes the bloodthrist of war operate on several levels, cadences of reverie and remembrance, archetypal symbols of life and death."—Washington Independent Review of Books

"[Youssef] uses the physical aspects of the everyday to evoke a flowing narrative of a lost home. . . . Youssef’s work is innovative and immediate, distilling bright details drawn from memory into poems pulsing with life. This beautifully translated work serves as an excellent introduction to a transformative voice in poetry."—Library Journal

"These are not political poems in any straightforward sense. Instead, they have a vision broad enough to encompass contemporary life: the US occupation of Iraq, a lake in the evening, butterflies in the Andes, Hurricane Katrina, a homeless man feeding a squirrel, and the screams of wild ducks."—Your Middle East

"[A] gorgeous, world-spanning work."—Kenyon Review