Translated by notable American poet Marilyn Hacker, Lebanese-French poet and novelist Venus Khoury-Ghata explores the formal and mythic attractions, congruencies and incompatibilities of the French and Arabic imaginations and poetic traditions in poems that open like a suitcase filled with alphabets. Sex, barrenness, exile, grief, and death - the backdrop of a war-ravaged country - are always at the edges, made increasingly urgent in lines varying from sinuous length to jagged and spare, their music unfettered, their metaphors lively, multilayered and unpredictable. But humour, the demotic voice, the storyteller's enchantments and an anecdotal sense of quotidian life are also omnipresent. Khoury-Ghata's is a vital voice in French and Francophone literature.
Venus Khoury-Ghata is a Lebanese poet and novelist, resident in France since 1973, author of sixteen collections of poems and twenty novels. She received the Prix Mallarme in 1987 for Monologue du mort, and the Grand Prix de la Societe des gens de lettres for Fables pour un people d'argile in 1992, and she was named a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur in 2000. Her work has been translated into Arabic, Dutch, German, Italian and Russian, and she herself translates contemporary Arabic poetry into French; Her most recent collection of poems, Les obscurcis, was published in 2008 by Mercure de France,which also published the novel Sept pierres pour la femme adultere in 2007. Three collections of her poems and one novel, all translated by Marilyn Hacker, have appeared in English in the United States: She Says was a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle Award in poetry in 2003.