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A Theory of Birds: Poems

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Winner of the 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize Inside the dodo bird is a forest, Inside the forest a peach analog, Inside the peach analog a woman, Inside the woman a lake of funerals This layering of bird, woman, place, technology, and ceremony, which begins this first full-length collection by Zaina Alsous, mirrors the layering of insights that marks the collection as a whole. Winner of the 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize Inside the dodo bird is a forest, Inside the forest a peach analog, Inside the peach analog a woman, Inside the woman a lake of funerals This layering of bird, woman, place, technology, and ceremony, which begins this first full-length collection by Zaina Alsous, mirrors the layering of insights that marks the collection as a whole. The poems in A Theory of Birds draw on inherited memory, historical record, critical theory, alternative geographies, and sharp observation. In them, birds—particularly extinct species—become metaphor for the violences perpetrated on othered bodies under the colonial gaze. Putting ecological preservation in conversation with Arab racial formation, state vernacular with the chatter of birds, Alsous explores how categorization can be a tool for detachment, domination, and erasure. Stretching their wings toward de-erasure, these poems—their subjects and their logics—refuse to stay put within a single category. This is poetry in support of a decolonized mind.


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Winner of the 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize Inside the dodo bird is a forest, Inside the forest a peach analog, Inside the peach analog a woman, Inside the woman a lake of funerals This layering of bird, woman, place, technology, and ceremony, which begins this first full-length collection by Zaina Alsous, mirrors the layering of insights that marks the collection as a whole. Winner of the 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize Inside the dodo bird is a forest, Inside the forest a peach analog, Inside the peach analog a woman, Inside the woman a lake of funerals This layering of bird, woman, place, technology, and ceremony, which begins this first full-length collection by Zaina Alsous, mirrors the layering of insights that marks the collection as a whole. The poems in A Theory of Birds draw on inherited memory, historical record, critical theory, alternative geographies, and sharp observation. In them, birds—particularly extinct species—become metaphor for the violences perpetrated on othered bodies under the colonial gaze. Putting ecological preservation in conversation with Arab racial formation, state vernacular with the chatter of birds, Alsous explores how categorization can be a tool for detachment, domination, and erasure. Stretching their wings toward de-erasure, these poems—their subjects and their logics—refuse to stay put within a single category. This is poetry in support of a decolonized mind.

42 review for A Theory of Birds: Poems

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alycia

    A Theory of Birds is not merely a book of poetry. Just as it reaches across time and space, holding together history, memory, and experience, this collection extends beyond any single genre. It is a critical examination of colonisation, past and present, and a lyrical and potent critique of imperialism, which (true to its title) carves out its own kind of theory enriched by creative practice. Read this book for its stunning recollections of moments lived, its manipulations of syntax and A Theory of Birds is not merely a book of poetry. Just as it reaches across time and space, holding together history, memory, and experience, this collection extends beyond any single genre. It is a critical examination of colonisation, past and present, and a lyrical and potent critique of imperialism, which (true to its title) carves out its own kind of theory enriched by creative practice. Read this book for its stunning recollections of moments lived, its manipulations of syntax and language, and its piercing, yet still tender questions ("Could you understand love as a wooded absence?"). I've learned so much from the poems within.

  2. 4 out of 5

    George Abraham

    I say this without exaggeration, as someone who reads poetry every day (especially in and among fellow Arab and Palestinian writers): Zaina Alsous has written one of the best poetry collections I've ever read. A Theory of Birds reminds me why I write poetry, pushing language to its limits in a way that pushes us forward, collectively. I've been Returning and re-Reading these poems for the past few months, and every time I re-enter this book, I learn something new. This book is going to be I say this without exaggeration, as someone who reads poetry every day (especially in and among fellow Arab and Palestinian writers): Zaina Alsous has written one of the best poetry collections I've ever read. A Theory of Birds reminds me why I write poetry, pushing language to its limits in a way that pushes us forward, collectively. I've been Returning and re-Reading these poems for the past few months, and every time I re-enter this book, I learn something new. This book is going to be remembered in the Palestinian Anglophone literary canon for generations to come.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Suja

  4. 5 out of 5

    Holly Canard

  5. 4 out of 5

    Romie

  6. 5 out of 5

    Alyson

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maryam A

  8. 5 out of 5

    Ariel Francisco

  9. 4 out of 5

    Marie

  10. 5 out of 5

    Zaynab Shahar

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aria Aber

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Faye

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jeffrey Parker

  14. 4 out of 5

    Crystal

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tiana Reid

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  17. 4 out of 5

    Palmer

  18. 5 out of 5

    Priyanka

  19. 5 out of 5

    Linda

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dina

  21. 4 out of 5

    Emilia

  22. 5 out of 5

    Alyazia

  23. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sofia Valencia

  25. 5 out of 5

    Lira

  26. 4 out of 5

    Maddie

  27. 5 out of 5

    Simeon Berry

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ron Burch

  30. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

  31. 4 out of 5

    Hajar Abuzayed

  32. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe

  33. 4 out of 5

    Erin

  34. 5 out of 5

    Sentimental Surrealist

  35. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Teehan

  36. 4 out of 5

    Amy Smith

  37. 4 out of 5

    Julia

  38. 4 out of 5

    Abbey

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Robinson

  40. 5 out of 5

    Karmela Padavic

  41. 4 out of 5

    Carla Sofia Sofia

  42. 4 out of 5

    Richard Horsman

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