Emilie Moorhouse reads from Emerald Wounds, her new translation of the poems of Joyce Mansour

10 September 2023

Joyce Mansour was a Syrian Jewish exile from Egypt whose fierce, macabre, erotically charged works gave André Breton’s Surrealist group a much-needed jolt after the ravages of the Second World War. Among new adherents, only Mansour wrote poems commensurate with those of Robert Desnos, René Char, Benjamin Pêret, and other poets from the movement’s heyday.

Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems by Joyce Mansour is a compact yet career-spanning, bilingual anthology of this incendiary poet. With a biographical introduction by translator Emilie Moorhouse, who was drawn to Mansour’s tough, take-no-prisoners stance during the societal reckoning of the #MeToo movement, Emerald Wounds showcases the entire arc of her trajectory as a poet, from the at-once gothic and minimalist fragments of her first collection in 1953, Screams, to the serpentine power of her final poems of the 1980s. Juxtaposing the original French poems with their English translations, Mansour’s voice surges forward uncensored and raw, communicating the frustrations, anger, and sadness of an intelligent, worldly woman who defies the constraints and oppression of a male-dominated society that sees women as superficial objects of desire rather than multidimensional, autonomous subjects. Mansour is a poet the world needs today.

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