S1 E1 Dunya MIKHAIL
Poet and Novelist
From Baghdad, Iraq. Living in Detroit, MI, USA.
Dunya MIKHAIL is an Iraqi American poet and writer. Facing censorship and interrogation, she left Iraq in 1995, first going to Jordan and then to America. In a wide ranging conversation, Dunya and Rona discuss growing up in Baghdad and the impact of relocation on her life and career as a writer.
With irony and subversive simplicity, Mikhail addresses themes of war, exile, and loss, using forms such as reportage, fable, and lyric. She is a laureate of the UNESCO Sharja Prize for Arab Culture and has received fellowships from the United States Artists, the Guggenheim, and Kresge. Her honors also include Arab American Book Award, and UN Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She is the first contemporary Iraqi woman poet translated into English. Her book THE WAR WORKS HARD was shortlisted for the International Griffin Poetry Prize. New Directions is publisher three of her other poetry books and her non-fiction book,THE BEEKEEPER, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and for PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award.
Her debut novel, THE BIRD TATTOO, shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, is coming out on December 6, 2022 from Pegasus Books. She currently works as a special lecturer of Arabic at Oakland University in Michigan.
When asked for a song which is meaningful for her and her experience, Mikhail shared the haunting "Happened at Al-Amiriya" by Naseer Shamma, a UNESCO Artist for Peace. We play a segment of the song and discuss it in the episode, but you can listen to the whole piece here. Thank you to Naseer Shamma for composing this beautiful piece of music and to Dunya Mikhail for introducing it to us. You can learn more about Naseer Shamma at his website.
Thank you to Dunya Mikhail for sharing her experiences and insights in this conversation. You can learn more about her and her wonderful work on her website: https://dunyamikhail.com/.
Thank you to Michaela Prell for her extraordinary help producing and editing this episode.
Thank you to Montana Skies for the Gringo Flamenco song which starts and ends this episode, and which we accessed on Free Music Archives.
And finally, a huge thank you to you for joining us for this conversation. You can follow this podcast or come back in two weeks for the next episode.