a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society
Since I left Iraq in 2006, my work has mainly been concerned with Iraqi narratives of the American invasion of their country and its impact on their lives. My work is in many ways a form of resistance to the stereotypical images of Iraqi experiences of trauma and displacement.
For me personally, the sense of exile established a need for images of home. I began painting works that spoke to that need, thus re-imagining connections to places and people from my life in Iraq. My paintings were filled with images of Iraqi women, symbols and places that I wanted to surround myself with in my own home. They became my form of resistance to being uprooted, displaced and re-identified by immigration.
the back of the tongue
and the top of the throat
like a gentle gurgle
of water flowing from
in silt heavy swirls
that find themselves
lost on the edges of banks.
From the tips of our tongues
we pile the memories
and stack them like the bricks
of homes we left behind,
now filled with solitude.
With our cardamom scented teacups
neatly tucked in dust laden
we sit here,
always looking back
to a city
rooted in centuries,
occupied and liberated,
just patient enough to hold us all
with all the colours of our skins,
with all our unbelievable beliefs,
with all our madness and exhilaration
holding us together
in gardens enclosed with gardenia bushes,
around tables of gossip and laughter,
through streets that never sleep,
on a river of candles bound with wishes.
Lamees Al Ethari is an Iraqi writer and artist who immigrated to Canada with her husband and two boys in 2008. She holds a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Waterloo, where she has been teaching academic and creative writing since 2015. Her research focuses on Iraqi North American women’s life narratives of trauma and migration. She has also been a Consulting Editor with The New Quarterly since 2016. Her poetry has been published in The Malpais Review and the anthology Al Mutanabbi Street Starts Here and printed as broadsides. She has two forthcoming works: one in poetry, From the Wounded Banks of the Tigris (Baseline Press, Fall 2018), and the other in prose Waiting for the Rain: A Memoir (Mawenzi House, Spring 2019). She is currently working on her monograph, Resistance and Memory in Iraqi Women’s Life Narratives.