Paperback Price: $17.50
Paperback ISBN: 978-1882295890

Selected Poem

My Body Before the Occupation

—Uranium for weapons, disarmed
Ammunition for wars to come
A loaf of bread

aching to be eaten

My Body After the Occupation

—Unable to reach heights of pleasure
Disabled little deaths

I hate their crowning moans

Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation

Translated by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi

Foreword by Alicia Ostriker

Alice James Books Translation Series
Library Journal Best Books of 2011: Poetry

“In spare, vivid, and poundingly heartfelt language, [al-Jubouri] shows us her country before the occupation by U.S. troops and afterward . . . these poems have a timeless, haunting quality, and they offer not just enormous pleasure but understanding.”
Library Journal, starred review

​”In a series of before-and-after poems, Amal al-Jubouri describes the changes in day-to-day action and mood in Baghdad and greater Iraq after the invasion by American forces and the fall of the Ba’ath Party in 2003.​ And she does this with much honesty and grace.”​
New Pages

​”. . .al-Jubouri’s blistering book of poetry, Hagar Before The Occupation | Hagar After The Occupation​. . .​nominated for a 2012 Best Translated Book of the Year award in the US, shows us both how difficult and how vital it is to create poetry in disaster. ​”

​”. . .​this poetry inhales and exhales; breathes, thrives. ​. . .​ ​this work will live on. ​. . ​ ​it will have a life of its own for decades to come.​”
—​​​Hayden’s Ferry Review

​”​Hagar is much more a book about poetry as witness and response to war, violence, and suffering, and about the poet struggling with her chosen medium, than about registering a personal reaction to the American occupation.​”

“In Hagar Before the Occupation / Hagar After the Occupation, we see how the political writes itself on everything that is personal—one’s speech and body, one’s sense of freedom and of love. Rebecca Gayle Howell’s translation, with Husam Qaisi, is stunning in how it creates a powerful, contemporary voice speaking to us directly with warmth and suffering, and yet also carries over the poems’ connection to Arabic literary traditions. The language of the poems marry present and past, which is a feat of translatorly skill and innovation.”
Three Percent

“[Amal al-Jubouri] reaches deeper, into the body, the grave, into the freedom that gives us the power to make us choices, though, when squandered, changes the way we live. However, sometimes the lack of freedom gives us cause to speak out. . .”
—​Barn Owl Review

“Through these poems, Amal al-Jubouri connects us to the earliest known poems, and yet the dialectic tension between them is utterly contemporary. Al-Jubouri writes “This is my protest, this is my folly,” yet these poems are neither simple protest nor in any sense folly. These poems are both essential and eternal.”
—Nick Flynn

“Amal al-Jubouri’s poems are essentially about exile, exile from the country of her youth, exile from peace, from love, from normalcy, from hope. They are courageous, honest, bitter, and beautiful. They are as ghosts, wandering over the rivers, looking for a home. I want to ask forgiveness of these ghosts. And rock them to sleep. I bless the Iraqi dead, as she does.”
—Gerald Stern

“Poet and translator Rebecca Howell, together with Husam Qaisi, has transported Amal al-Jubouri’s moving cri de coeur across the precarious bridge between Arabic and English as well as the cultural, political, and ethical chasm separating Iraq and the United States. This is poetry necessary to our times, and we owe the makers of this work in English an enormous debt of gratitude.”
—Carolyn Forché



  1. » The Community Roundup: August 13, 2014 - August 13, 2014

    […] * I hope “poetry videos” become a thing. This one by  and his brother Anders is wonderful: A few weeks ago, we received an email from our friend, poet Kai Carlson-Wee. He told us that he had spent the summer traveling, and along with working on new poems, he had created a “poetry video.” He wanted to know if we would be interested in showcasing his poetry video since the audio is “Holes in the Mountain,” one of his five poems from his 2014 Editors’ Prize winning entry. We weren’t really sure what a poetry video would look like, but we said, yeah sure we’d love to sit down and check out his work. So he sent us the link. And we watched it. Then watched it again. And again. And again. * GRIND co-founder Matthew Olzmann has two new poems, “The Minotaurs” and “Nate Brown is Looking For a Moose”, in the new issue of Poetry Northwest. * Rebecca Gayle Howell and Husam Qaisi’s translation of Amal al-Jubouri’s Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation is Alice James Books’s book of the week! […]

  2. AWP15 Bookfair Bingo: Translation! | ALTA Talk - March 23, 2015

    […] Hagar Before the Occupation | Hagar After the Occupation by Amal Al-Jubouri, trans. Rebecca Gayle Howell and Husam Qaisi […]

  3. Area -Wide Book Arts and Cultural Festival in Solidarity with People of Iraq Coming to DC Area January-March 2016 - Post - Arab America - December 21, 2015

    […] Amal Al-Jubouri is an Iraqi poet, activist, and human rights lawyer. She is the founder and CEO of the Arab Human Rights Academy, an NGO based in London, and, an online TV station based in Iraq. She has published a number of poetic works and films, including the award-winning Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation. […]