Readings and Reviews: 'Poems From Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak'

Poems from Guantánamo

In early 2007, the University of Iowa Press released Poems from Guantánamo: The Detainees Speak, a collection of poetry that gives voice to the men held at the U.S. detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Available only because of the efforts of attorneys who submitted each line to the Pentagon for scrutiny, Poems from Guantánamo brought together twenty-two poems by seventeen detainees, most still at Guantánamo, in legal limbo. Some originally written in toothpaste, others scratched onto foam drinking cups with pebbles and furtively handed to attorneys, these poems are the most basic form of the art.

Marc Falkoff, the Chicago lawyer who collected these poems and represents many of the detainees imprisoned at Guantánamo, will read from the collection at Prairie Lights Bookstore, on Tuesday, Sept. 4th, 7 p.m.

Read the reviews of Poems from Guantánamo:

"The poems short-circuit the entrenched scripts of 'American' vs. 'Muslim' and 'us' vs. 'them' and replace them, briefly, with the considerations of one individual trying to speak to another. Poems such as 'To My Father' invoke an intimate sense of loss recognizable to a Western reader, even if the cultural details are foreign: 'Two years my heart sending out messages/ To the homes where my family dwells,/ Where lavender cotton sprouts/ For grazing herds that leave well fed.'" Read the full review

International Herald Tribune

Dan Chiasson reviews the University of Iowa Press volume of poems by Guantánamo detainees:

"It is hard to imagine a reader so hardhearted as to bring aesthetic judgment to bear on a book written by men in prison without legal recourse, several of them held in solitary confinement, some of them likely subjected to practices that many disinterested parties have called torture. You don't read this book for pleasure; you read it for evidence." Read the full review