The Land Between Two Rivers: Writing in an Age of Refugees (Paperback)

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Essays on the urgency of our global refugee crisis and our capacity as artists and citizens to confront it

Tom Sleigh describes himself donning a flak jacket and helmet, working as a journalist inside militarized war zones and refugee camps, as "a sort of Rambo Jr." With self-deprecation and empathetic humor, these essays recount his experiences during several tours in Africa and in the Middle Eastern region once called Mesopotamia, "the land between two rivers."

Sleigh asks three central questions: What did I see? How could I write about it? Why did I write about it? The first essays in The Land between Two Rivers focus on the lives of refugees in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kenya, Somalia, and Iraq. Under the conditions of military occupation, famine, and war, their stories can be harrowing, even desperate, but they're also laced with wily humor and an undeluded hopefulness, their lives having little to do with their depictions in mass media. The second part of the book explores how writing might be capable of honoring the texture of these individuals' experiences while remaining faithful to political emotions, rather than political convictions. Sleigh examines the works of Anna Akhmatova, Mahmoud Darwish, Ashur Etwebi, David Jones, Tomas Transtrmer, and others as guiding spirits. The final essays meditate on youth, restlessness, illness, and Sleigh's motivations for writing his own experiences in order to move out into the world, concluding with a beautiful remembrance of Sleigh's friendship with Seamus Heaney.

About the Author

Tom Sleigh is the author of a previous essay collection, Interview with a Ghost, and ten books of poetry, including Station Zed, Army Cats, and Space Walk, winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. He teaches at Hunter College and lives in New York.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781555977962
ISBN-10: 1555977960
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Publication Date: February 6th, 2018
Pages: 272
Language: English

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