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Letters to Iraq: “listen to the hope and beauty”

May 18, 2020

A slender, elegant handmade book slipped through my letterbox last week.

This chapbook is the latest volume of Beau Beausoleil’s poetry, beautifully produced in an edition of 200 by Andrea Hassiba’s Intermittent Press (719 Lisbon, San Francisco, CA 94112). The price is ten dollars in the U.S. and twelve dollars in the U.K. Shipping is included in the price. Inquiries: overlandbooks(at)earthlink(dot)net

4¼ x 11 inches, black card cover, dark grey flysheet, 24 pages.

Raw with shared pain, these are not angry poems. They are cries of hope and compassion, demanding change/not the promise of change/not a panel to study change/not a worthless piece of paper

Full of questions, they do not offer slick answers; how much light asks the poet, does each falling body take with it as it hits the groundhow many days does one have to wake up with less dignity … how many years can you look for the one who is still missing … I want to open every fist they put around your heart/and listen as you tell me again how close liberty is to where you are standing.


“Just give us a country, we just want a country to live in.” (A phrase repeated by many Iraqis during the demonstrations.)

In his introduction, Beau writes:

As a poet and activist, I have been emotionally compelled to respond to the ongoing revolution that started in early October 2019. Iraqis are seeking a country that is free of corruption, one that sheds its entrenched political parties and politicians, one that offers freedom, equality, justice, and an end to all colonial influences.

I have followed the news reports describing the momentous acceleration of people into the streets: workers, students, women, academics, professionals, cultural workers, and even the elders. In spite of their victims being unarmed, government forces and sanctioned militias have killed over 600 people and wounded over 18,000. There have been arrests with accompanying torture, kidnappings and targeted assassinations of Iraqi activists.

I continue to be profoundly affected by the courage and determination of the Iraqi people. When I wrote the first poem on October 8th, I thought it was a singular response to all that I was watching and reading on social media and in the news coming out of Iraq.

The continuing struggle of these heroic and resolute people has motivated and inspired me to write 28 poems as of March of this year. This chapbook presents the reader with 11 of those poems.

This small effort is dedicated to every Iraqi who has risked his/her life for freedom, and for those who have been wounded or killed in this country-wide movement.

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