Hassan Al Nawwab’s new collection in Arabic and English captures the terror of war and blessings of love
Hassan Al Nawwab was born in Iraq in 1960 and came to Australia in 2003 with his wife and children. He is a poet and journalist who has published three volumes of poetry and two plays in Arabic, and has received numerous awards for his poems.
Poems That Do Not Sleep is Hassan’s first collection in English. With devastating simplicity, his imagistic poems speak of war and terror, of homesickness in exile, the blessings of peace and the pain of belonging. The collection is in two parts – ‘Tree Flying’ and ‘Diaspora’ – and each poem is presented with its counterpart in Arabic on the opposite page, as translated from English by the poet himself.
Hassan Al Nawwab says:
‘I sent Georgia [my editor] about 300 poems and she chose 60 to include in this collection, keeping to the theme of war. All my poems were written in Perth but many are about my experiences in Iraq where I was a soldier and tank driver. I believe I write poems that worry. They live in the war, they live in the borders, the streets and in the memories of smoke and the fears of wounded soldiers. I believe these memories do not sleep and so my poems do not sleep.
I try to put an image into every poem. To draw, not with ink, but with my spirit or soul. I hope when you read my poems you feel like it is something you wrote yourself because you are feeling what I feel. My message to all humans is that any war destroys life but love is building the dream in the sky.’