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I Will Not Fold These Maps by Mona Kareem, trans. by Sara Elkamel

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Mona Kareem is a stateless poet, born in Kuwait, whose work has been internationally acclaimed for its power and immediacy ever since she published her first collection at the age of 14. Her writing comes out of the experience of growing up with ‘Bidoon’ status (from ‘bidoon jinsiya’ or ‘without nationality’); an Arab minority denied Kuwaiti citizenship rights, who were categorised as ‘illegal residents’ and stripped of their access to employment, education, social welfare and official documentation a year before her birth.

Her poems are surreal, relying heavily on vivid metaphors, often to bridge the gap between the self and what lies outside the self. They enact a boundless porosity between the body, nature, and the material world. Kareem plays with language to explore the infinite depths of human experience and identity. These poems, with dates, times and places obscured, present us with new maps of precarious, unstable, and permeable geopolitics. Kareem delineates ‘rupture’ as a facet of the migrant’s experience.

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