“The Iraq that appears in Dayplaces is a literary construct as well as a political and historical fact. It is as if Naseer Hassan has recreated Iraq—at least partly through the lens of Dante’s Divine Comedy—and turned it into a world that we can see both as itself and as a world reimagined for its literary possibilities. The genius of Naseer Hassan's book is the way he presents Iraq’s chaos as analogous to the world’s, the way he equates Iraqis’ condition to the human condition. “The agony here,” he has written, “is the world’s agony, which can mean everything’s agony, my agony, the nation’s agony, the agony of human life, and so on, but of course this is one side of the world, the other side is its beauty.””
—from the preface by Jon Davis
“Naseer Hassan leaves us in an exchange of silences, an exchange of lightness and darkness. Leaves us with the morsels of buildings, cities, civilization, souls, corpses, spirits after an exploration: ancestors are like “dust accumulated on the table,” the voice of childhood is “a remote encounter,” and “the bookshops carry the papers of those who came to the riverbank—like corpses or books” to “the house of evening that roads left behind.”—Dayplaces is a structure built of minute and massive infinities that sap war of its darkplaces. When you have finished reading, “the land” is no longer “absent.””
—from the introduction by Nathalie Handa
Jon Davis is the author of six chapbooks and four full-length collections of poetry: Improbable Creatures (Grid Books, 2017), Preliminary Report (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), Scrimmage of Appetite (University of Akron, 1995), for which he was honored with a Lannan Literary Award in Poetry, and Dangerous Amusements (Ontario Review Press, 1987), for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. He directs the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Institute of American Indian Arts.
Christopher Merrill has published six collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan Wars, Things of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy Mountain, and Self-Portrait with Dogwood. He is the editor of The Tebot Bach New World Translation Series, and directs the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa.
Naseer Hassan is an Iraqi poet and translator of poetry and philosophy. He was born in Baghdad in 1962 and graduated with a degree in architecture from Baghdad University. He has published four poetry collections in Arabic: The Circle of Sundial, Suggested Signs, Being Here, and Dayplaces. Hassan’s collected poems appeared in 2010 from the Arabic Publishing House in Beirut. He has translated into Arabic four books of poetry and two of philosophy: Emily Dickinson: Selected Poems and Critical Readings; Luis Borges: 60 Selected Poems; Days of the Shore: Selections from the New American Poetry 1980-2010; The Bush and The Stone: Poetic Selections of Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Stevens; Book One of Schopenhauer’s The World as Will and Representation; and John Koller’s Asian Philosophies. He is a winner of the 2008 David Burke Distinguished Journalism Award for working in a highly dangerous situation. Poems from Dayplaces have appeared in The Literary Review, Diode, Drunken Boat, Two Lines: Landmarks, Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, Cutthroat, Waxwing, Poetry at Sangam, and Fafnir’s Heart: World Poetry in Translation.