50 Water Dreams
50 Water Dreams
Poems | Siwar Masannat | 2015
* Winner of the 2014 CSU Poetry Center First Book Competition, Selected by Ilya Kaminsky *
Focusing on the intersection of the pastoral mode and diaspora, 50 Water Dreams refracts and retells the stories of characters out of Western mythical and religious traditions. Poems are often dramatic situations or monologues using the framework of theater to structure the content.
Praise for 50 Water Dreams
“As critic Jacqueline Rose says of Mahmoud Darwish, here is a poetry that writes back. Fragmentary by nature, this innovative dream sequence speaks across borders, interrogating the language of power relationships and singing toward a longed for home. These clips of language beg for recovery, for coherence in a world unlikely to cohere. ‘What is causality, / for x to lead to y? What / is loss of land?’ asks Masannat in 50 Water Dreams, her essential debut.”
“How rare and exhilarating it is, in our time, to find a book that is both wildly inventive and daring in its style and incredibly compelling in its content! 50 Water Dreams takes us on a book-long journey of Fadia and Ishmael and a mysterious horse that keeps the house company (‘horse that humanizes the house,’ ‘horse that may keep the house from dying’). The romance here is this: Fadia's father was a dead man forced to go home on foot & Ishmael’s mother exiled. What happens in this book? Cruelty and passion and heartbreak become a myth for our times of conflict. How lucky we are to find a poetry debut that isn't afraid of ideas, of mysteries, of politics, of passion. How brave she is to say ‘I saw nobody coming so I went instead.’ And to dare us: ‘I want to put you in my revolution.’ Like Zbigniew Herbert, this poet wants ‘to hide you in my eyelids & the nation,’ like Venus Khoury-Ghata, she makes a mythological pastoral, a book of voices that speak for more than one person.”
“50 Water Dreams beckons us into a mysterious world of broken tesserae, a dispersed mosaic the reader must puzzle over to reconstruct. What we discover, as the pieces begin to fit, is that Siwar Masannat subversively flips the script of scripture, and invites us to re-read what we thought we knew as the story of a land called ‘holy.’ In her words, ‘Fadia, I say I dare not blink. If I could, / hide you in my eyelids & the nation, / too.’ If peace is to come between Israelis and Palestinians, it may require this sort of utter recasting and frame-breaking. An auspicious and unblinking debut!”
Siwar Masannat is an Arab writer from Amman, Jordan. She graduated from Jordan University in 2009 with a B.S. in Pharmacy. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from George Mason University and a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. Siwar is a co-founder of Gazing Grain Press, an inclusive feminist chapbook contest funded by the Fall for the Book literary festival.