by Karim, Fawzi
Born in Baghdad in 1945, now living in London, Fawzi Karim is one of the most compelling voices of the exiled generation of Iraqi writers. In the first collection of his poetry to appear in English, his long sequence ‘Plague Lands’ is an elegy for the life of a lost city, a chronicle of a journey into exile, haunted by the deep history of an ancient civilisation. Memories of Baghdad’s smoke-filled cafes, its alleys and mulberry-shaded squares, ‘the tang of tea, of coffee beans – arak, napthalene, damp straw mats’, are recalled with painful intensity. Karim’s defiant humanity, rejecting dogma and polemic, makes him a necessary poet for fractured times. Working closely with the author, the poet Anthony Howell has created versions of ‘Plague Lands’ and a selection of Karim’s shorter poems. Notes on the poems, Elena Lappin’s introduction and an afterword by Marius Kociejowsky exploring Karimp’s life, illuminate the context of the poetry.