Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

She Says

Bilingual Edition
Vénus Khoury-Ghata; Translated from the French by Marilyn Hacker
She says
the earth is so vast one can't help but be lost like water from a broken jug/
There is no fortress against the wind
the winter wanderer must count on the compassion of walls
—from "She Says"

Translated by celebrated American poet Marilyn Hacker, Vénus Khoury-Ghata's She Says explores the mythic and confessional intersection of the French and Arabic imaginations with poems that open like "a suitcase filled with alphabets." Sex, barrenness, grief, and death are always at the edges, made increasingly urgent by lines often jagged and spare, their music unhaltered. Khoury-Ghata is a vital voice in both her native and adopted languages and we are pleased to present this important collection in English.

Share Title

Publication Date
Trim Size
6 x 9
Award-winning American poet Marilyn Hacker offers the brilliance of Lebanese poet Vénus Khoury-Ghata in an exquisite translation.

About the Author

Venus  Khoury-Ghata
Credit: Anne Selders
Vénus Khoury-Ghata is a Lebanese poet and novelist, the author of the poetry collections Nettles and She Says, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the novel A House at the Edge of Tears. She has been a resident of France since 1973.

More by author
Marilyn  Hacker
Credit: Margaretta K. Mitchell
Marilyn Hacker is a National Book Award-winning poet and the translator from French of several contemporary poets, including Vénus Khoury-Ghata. She lives in Paris and New York, where she is a professor of English and Creative Writing at City College. She also teaches Literary Translation at the CUNY Graduate Center.
More by author


  • “Amazing images, amazing lines; that pity brings, that pain produces. I have huge admiration for these poems—and these translations. Marilyn Hacker is doing a great service making them available to an American readership.”—Gerald Stern
  • “Vénus Khoury-Ghata plants a new language with the seeds of an ancient one. The poetry of She Says cannot be contained by the old worlds of words yet there she is in a household of wind and rain or within the realm of trees. Who better to translate this mythic sweep of poetry than Marilyn Hacker whose own poetry is a breaking through.”—Joy Harjo
  • “Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s poems are striking for their combined innocence and wisdom. In Marilyn Hacker’s pristine translations, the poems are dreamlike and real, mysterious and utterly true. Here Khoury-Ghata envisions the beginnings of the world and modern tragedy simultaneously and with a heightened clarity. Language shines in a new light as she searches for its origin: ‘How to find the name of the fisherman who hooked the first word / of the woman who warmed it in her armpit / or of the one who mistook it for a pebble and threw it at a stray dog.’ And she takes us to a time when ‘Everything that frequented water had a soul / clay jug, gourd, basin ‘buckets fished out the ones stagnating in the wells’ indifference.’ I am enchanted."—Grace Schulman
Back to Table of Contents