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2020 - Shortlisted
A poetry of immense import and emotional weight, The Lost Arabs surfs the waves of political and personal unrest with a hard won knowledge that is ‘myth-made, media driven’ (‘House of Beirut,’ 3). Sakr’s poems are freighted with a variety of concerns, including family histories in Lebanon and Turkey, the devastating impacts of American empire building, the hybridity of diasporic identity, and the landscapes of the male body.
This is writing at its most electrifying and damaging. Sakr’s voice is prophetic yet achingly vulnerable, apocalyptic yet filled with ludic joy. The poet orients his readers to the intractable silences in language while also exposing them to the bruising possibilities of poetic speech. The Lost Arabs is impressively arranged. Sakr’s poems skilfully draw readers through slow riots of desire and deeply mystical experiences, while excoriating the the brutal legacies of globalising power structures.