Almadhoun caught me with his first lines.
- Jenny Holzer (U.S.)
The stark and brutal reality of war is driven home.
- The Guardian (U.K)
Compared to the post-Auschwitz poetry of Nelly Sachs or Paul Celan, for example, this is a slap in the face, a desublimation of the experience of violence, which of course makes it appear in all its evil banality in the first place. As prosaic as one may find it, Ghayath Almadhoun has found a lyrical language that is appropriate to the Syrian civil war. He is the great poet of a great catastrophe.
- Stefan Weidner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Germany)
“a green rain pours down on my murdered poems.” For a murdered person there is no resurrection except in poetry; for a murdered poem, there is no resurrection except in reading.
- Ryan Ruby, Bookforum Magazine (USA)
We close the book, just now our fingers stained not with the black milk of forgetting, but something fresher: an ink that refuses to dry.
- Hilary Plum, Poetry Northwest (U.S.)
“Many poets attempt to traverse the gulf between the experience of tragedy and the ability to relay its magnitude to anyone else. But few living have done it with such flourish, such sustained passion and formal precision as Ghayath Almadhoun in Adrenalin. The poet emerges from Palestine, “a country famous for its wars,” and aims to braid that nation’s history and present with his own singular unprecedented experience. Even amidst the cannons and “shrapnel butterflies,” Alhmadhoun keeps a keen eye toward wonder—performing ablutions in wine before touching a beloved, eating ice cream in winter. Still, this searing collection orbits war, the consequences of war on a person and on a people. In Almadhoun we find an urgent, necessary voice, “the only survivor of this glorious massacre, the witness who arrived late, calmly observing the tombstones.”
- Kaveh Akbar (U.S.)
“The work of a poète maudit.”
Asmaa Azaizeh, As-Safir (Lebanon)
“It is probably his inclination to viewing and using language as a totality that makes him a kindred spirit to Paul Celan and may have determined his choice of model.”
- Pina Piccolo, A paper was presented at the Modern Language Association Symposium held in Lisbon. Published in The Dreaming Machine (Online journal)
“This is political poetry at full force. This is what political poetry must look like if it is going to be serious. We cannot be satisfied by less complex texts–they are so hopelessly infantilizing. In this crucial political poetry, war’s contradictions and suffering are portrayed in endless nuances. This is our wake-up call.”
- Aase Berg, Dagens Nyheter (Sweden)
I’ve been loving Palestinian poet Ghayath Almadhoun’s tremendous book Adrenalin (tr. Catherine Cobham), that speaks into, from, and through crises of exile and war. Reading it, distinctions like “personal” and “political” seem even more absurd than they already did. It’s possessed by intensity—head-on, vivid, unsparing, and anti-sentimental while simultaneously deeply felt. Almadhoun subverts lyricism and turns metaphor on its head to expose, transform, self-indict, confront.
- Ari Banias, Poetry Foundation (U.S.)
"Reading his poems is like facing the naked bodies of casualties of war being dissected right in front of you; you can’t look at them but you can’t really look away, and either way you will find yourself torn apart by your choice because, no matter what, it will make you complicit in what has been revealed. The poems embody the collective and personal truths of displacement, in beautiful language, both contemplative and winding—a language that steeps you in the brutality and beauty that only humanity can engender."
- Poupeh Missaghi, Asymptote (Taiwan)
"Almadhoun displays a refreshing persistence to write beyond the scope of isolated pain ... this collection is a spellbinding, full-blooded spring of a rapturous history untold"
- Publishers Weekly (U.S.)
“Almadhoun’s poetry offers passion without comfort. It’s impassioned to its deepest lexical and syntactic fibres. Nothing is put into perspective, except for individual existence. Many voices sound through the poet’s, after all, especially those of the dead.”
- Erwin Jans in Poëziekrant (Belgium)
“Describing Ghayath Almadhoun’s poetry in Adrenalin is anything but easy. The blurbs on the book call the collection ‘crucial political poetry’, ‘urgent and necessary’, ‘passionate and acerbic’, and ‘our wake-up call’, although we find out that Almadhoun’s own views on his poetry are slightly different. Written in the wake of the Syrian war, the refugee crisis, and a personal loss of his homeland, the poems in Adrenaline are formally experimentally and emotionally explosive. In a voice that is, in equal measure, full of wonder and irreverence for the turn the world has taken, Adrenalin dwells on war, empathy, displacement, suffering, love, and hatred unapologetically.”
- Sohini Basak, Asymptote (Taiwan)