16 pages 32 minutes read

Dunya Mikhail

The War Works Hard

Nonfiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2005

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Authorial Context

As someone born and raised in Iraq, Dunya Mikhail understands the true cost of war on a personal level, from her own life experiences. War has long been one of the dominant themes in Mikhail’s body of work; in both this particular poem and the collection it features in, The War Works Hard, Mikhail uses her poetry as a means of documenting and reflecting upon the horrors of armed conflict, both in her homeland and around the world. Mikhail’s poetry is passionate but not partisan: she is less interested in promoting an explicit political ideology than she is in decrying the human misery and destruction war brings to vulnerable people caught up in any form of armed conflict.

As a former refugee, Mikhail demonstrates a strong sense of compassion and solidarity for those left displaced by war and/or dictatorship. Living in Iraq during the 1980’s, Mikhail was an eyewitness to the lengthy conflict between Iraq and Iran that dominated that decade, an experience which helps lend a unique authority to her work. As an Iraqi woman, Mikhail has felt the effects of war directly; as a poet, she bears witness for all the countless anonymous victims who cannot speak for themselves.

Related Titles

By Dunya Mikhail