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Hard Damage

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Hard Damage works to relentlessly interrogate the self and its shortcomings. In lyric and documentary poems and essayistic fragments, Aria Aber explores the historical and personal implications of Afghan American relations. Drawing on material dating back to the 1950s, she considers the consequences of these relations—in particular the funding of the Afghan mujahedeen, which led Hard Damage works to relentlessly interrogate the self and its shortcomings. In lyric and documentary poems and essayistic fragments, Aria Aber explores the historical and personal implications of Afghan American relations. Drawing on material dating back to the 1950s, she considers the consequences of these relations—in particular the funding of the Afghan mujahedeen, which led to the Taliban and modern-day Islamic terrorism—for her family and the world at large. Invested in and suspicious of the pain of family and the shame of selfhood, the speakers of these richly evocative and musical poems mourn the magnitude of citizenship as a state of place and a state of mind. While Hard Damage is framed by free-verse poetry, the middle sections comprise a lyric essay in fragments and a long documentary poem. Aber explores Rilke in the original German, the urban melancholia of city life, inherited trauma, and displacement on both linguistic and environmental levels, while employing surrealist and eerily domestic imagery.  


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Hard Damage works to relentlessly interrogate the self and its shortcomings. In lyric and documentary poems and essayistic fragments, Aria Aber explores the historical and personal implications of Afghan American relations. Drawing on material dating back to the 1950s, she considers the consequences of these relations—in particular the funding of the Afghan mujahedeen, which led Hard Damage works to relentlessly interrogate the self and its shortcomings. In lyric and documentary poems and essayistic fragments, Aria Aber explores the historical and personal implications of Afghan American relations. Drawing on material dating back to the 1950s, she considers the consequences of these relations—in particular the funding of the Afghan mujahedeen, which led to the Taliban and modern-day Islamic terrorism—for her family and the world at large. Invested in and suspicious of the pain of family and the shame of selfhood, the speakers of these richly evocative and musical poems mourn the magnitude of citizenship as a state of place and a state of mind. While Hard Damage is framed by free-verse poetry, the middle sections comprise a lyric essay in fragments and a long documentary poem. Aber explores Rilke in the original German, the urban melancholia of city life, inherited trauma, and displacement on both linguistic and environmental levels, while employing surrealist and eerily domestic imagery.  

30 review for Hard Damage

  1. 5 out of 5

    Natalie Eilbert

    Hard Damage by Aria Aber is and will remain a book I keep close to my chest. Aber navigates language through proximities, whether in the mishearing of bombs for "balms" or in Widderuf with Rilke or in the rupture of country in the midst of regime changes. Few collections are able to accomplish what Aber accomplishes in Hard Damage. Her words are imperiled by beauty of witness and the existential relationship to diaspora. She demands the origins of which she was deprived, writing poems about Wisc Hard Damage by Aria Aber is and will remain a book I keep close to my chest. Aber navigates language through proximities, whether in the mishearing of bombs for "balms" or in Widderuf with Rilke or in the rupture of country in the midst of regime changes. Few collections are able to accomplish what Aber accomplishes in Hard Damage. Her words are imperiled by beauty of witness and the existential relationship to diaspora. She demands the origins of which she was deprived, writing poems about Wisconsin by its pre-colonized name of Meskonsing, knowing there is no word for "home" in Dari, the glimmering image of Kabul—her foremost idea of home—at the mercy of decadeslong invasion and occupation. Reading these lines, we feel the heat of her politics, but this is also a poet so ensorcelled to verse that I believe, briefly once more, that we deserve new ambassadors of the world. Aria Aber would surely be one. Seriously, read this book. It is one of the best debut collections I've ever read.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    This book is absolutely brilliant. I will reread it again and again.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    Excellent. The long poems/sequences are really great. Loved the way this book built up across the reading experience.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Teymour

    A fine book, however, it’s evident the author doesn’t have a clear grasp of Hegel’s phenomenology of spirit. Therefore, more educated readers may find the book tiring

  5. 4 out of 5

    George Abraham

    This book is nothing short of groundbreaking, and is one of my favorites of 2019. Every poem will leave you breathless (and just wait till you get to the abecedarian - you're not ready). Aria Aber has given us the future of SWANA lit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barton Smock

    Of hermetic departure and homeless echo, Aria Aber’s Hard Damage is a work of deep citizenry in which words begin to sound like the words they were made for. Or from. I’m not sure. One moment I’m packing snowglobes in ash and the next I’m losing my footing while listening to a eulogy that distance has written for want. What landmark nostalgia. What shocked intimacy. Aber knows speech hides in the saying. Knows headline is a melancholy click twice removed from identity sorrow. There is no undoing Of hermetic departure and homeless echo, Aria Aber’s Hard Damage is a work of deep citizenry in which words begin to sound like the words they were made for. Or from. I’m not sure. One moment I’m packing snowglobes in ash and the next I’m losing my footing while listening to a eulogy that distance has written for want. What landmark nostalgia. What shocked intimacy. Aber knows speech hides in the saying. Knows headline is a melancholy click twice removed from identity sorrow. There is no undoing in the doing. Revelation, here, is baked into the bone. If Aber’s imagery renders hypnosis a given, then this language has it go without. Be taken, reader. So covertly enspelled.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lucy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mathilda Cullen

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Faye

  10. 5 out of 5

    Safia

  11. 5 out of 5

    Carrie

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fatima Mirza

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vic

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paroma

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alyson

  16. 4 out of 5

    B.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  18. 5 out of 5

    Summer

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nour Hasan

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mackenzie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kris

  22. 4 out of 5

    Spencer Hendrixson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sophie LaBarre

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mary Lafferty

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marisa Siegel

  26. 5 out of 5

    Shawnzie Gade

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  28. 4 out of 5

    Dongnaan

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Francisco

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