Dunya Mikhail

Photo © Robert Akrawi

Mikhail has created a searing portrait of courage, humanity and savagery, told in a mosaic of voices.”
New York Times Book Review, Deborah Campbell 
“This book makes a sound, and it should be a loud one.”
The Guardian, Peter Stanford
“The Beekeeper is a brutally important, electrifying, and lyrical true story.”
Foreword, Paige Van De Winkle
“It’s a remarkable, winding work that ascends into dream visions and crawls through gory particulars of war. A child’s perspective mingles freely with the poet’s mature voice, both baffled by the paradoxes of so much beauty and so much destruction.”

 The Washington Post, Ron Charles

“Stark and poignant, Mikhail’s poems give voice to an often buried, glossed-over or spun grief.”

Publishers Weekly

Powerful, urgent.”

Kirkus Review

“Mikhail’s work is emotionally uplifting. Her style mentions an impressive fragility and delicacy of image that touches the reader’s heart. Indeed, her trademark utmost lucidity of picture is tinged by a radiance of tone that we feel unmistakably spills over from the original language.”

American Poetry Review, Laurence Lieberman

[Mikhail is] a poet who can take a subject as difficult as the death of a child and write, counter to the human-interest story or sound bite, a poem that will outlast the exigencies of the present.”

 Boston Review, Susan Barba

“Mikhail’s poetry- so pure and beautiful- is the best of her generation.”

Fadhil Al-Azzawi, Iraqi poet

“Shakespeare would have enjoyed the poetry of Dunya Mikhail who has spoken of love as a response to a war-torn world – an aesthetic, a value, and a practice.”

 The Christian Science Monitor, Elizabeth Toohey,

“Dunya Mikhail combines the authenticity of witness to global events with the essential poetic virtue of wit.”

New Letters, Robert Stewart 

“There is no current voice that speaks on war through poetry more candidly, effectively, and beautifully than Dunya Mikhail.”

 Parkview magazine, Ronald Grant

“In Her Feminine Sign is a collection of limpid meditations which demand that we pause as we read. Their stillness and clarity is no miniaturised charm. Instead it’s an utterly articulate clear-sightedness that lets each one deliver a shock. The tragedies of recent and not so recent Iraqi history and the traditions of Arabic verse are the steely structures that underpin her profoundly thought-through work of witness.”

The Guardian, Fiona Sampson

“With plain-spoken clarity, these poems navigate the meaning of home. ‘How many departures can you put up with?’ one asks.”

The New York Times “New & Noteworthy”

“one of the foremost poets of our time.”

The Christian Science Monitor, Elizabeth Toohey


“The dead have words, because Mikhail has written them.”

Barbara Berman, The Rumpus

“Dunya Mikhail is a woman who speaks like the disillusioned goddesses of Babylon.”

Etel Adnan

“Somewhere between a cutting-edge film and a 1002nd night of storytelling, interspersed with drawings and calligraphy, Dunya Mikhail’s new poems reframe, in a contemporary woman’s voice, the great poet al-Sayab’s cry from the heart: ‘Iraq, Iraq, nothing but Iraq!’ Here, myth alleviates the exile’s longing, and exilic longin itself opens the poet’s eyes to broad horizons.”

Marilyn Hacker

“Mikhail sings of the longing and undoing of exile, mourns the loss of her language, describes its gendering and the re-engineering on her tongue, a poet’s most important muscle. Delicate, beautiful, day-stopping.”

John Freeman, LitHub

“Here is the new Iraqi poetry: a poetry of urgency that has no time for the traditional (in Arab poetry) flowers of rhetoric; terse, unadorned, stripped & ironic, Dunya Mikhail’s lines move at the speed of events–be it war or love. Here the fierceness of the public life meshes with the hard-won tenderness of the private, in a passionate dialectic that makes her voice the inescapable voice of Arab poetry today.”

Pierre Joris

“The stories in The Beekeeper are reminiscent of tales of escapees on the US’s Underground Railroad of the mid-1800s or during the Holocaust. The book is a paean for coexistence in a multiethnic, multi-religious, multilingual Iraq. Powerful and difficult.”

M. Lynx Qualey, The National