Iraqi Poet Al-Kabi to Read from Award-Winning Anthology at Mercer

Statue of Jesse Mercer on the Mercer campus.

MACON — Iraqi Poet Haider Al-Kabi will read his poetry from the award-winning anthology, Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq, at Mercer University on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Medical School Auditorium. Al-Kabi is a distinguished Iraqi poet, editor and translator and one of the contributors to the volume Flowers of Flame, which won a 2009 Independent Publisher Book Award for Poetry.

The critically acclaimed book of poetry was assembled by Al-Kabi and two other Iraqi poets and translators, Sadek Mohammed and Soheil Najm, who collected the message from the people of Iraq to share with the people of America and the world. Dan Veach, editor of the Atlanta Review, also served as an editor for the collection. In this first collection of writings since the invasion of 2003, the writers portray the bombing of Baghdad, the fall of Saddam Hussein, as well as the hardships and hopes of the Iraqi people.

“Since the anthology was published, I have had the privilege on several occasions of meeting Mr. Al-Kabi and of hearing him read. He is a spokesman for a lost generation of Iraqi voices,” said Dr. Stephen Bluestone, a professor of English at Mercer who organized the reading. “His own poetry – and the poetry he and his collaborators have translated into English – expresses with poignancy and passion the grief and suffering of a nation under siege from every direction, from within as well as without.

“The poetry in the anthology includes both exile and at-home work, and it is my belief that American students, who are, for the most part, conditioned to sound-bite news, need to be exposed to the human dimension behind those headlines,” he said. “Those who take freedom of speech for granted would be shocked to hear poetry too dangerous to be formally published in Iraq itself. As a liberal arts institution with a diverse student body, Mercer University is surely an appropriate setting for such a dramatic program.” 

Al-Kabi was born in Basra in 1954 and is a distinguished Iraqi writer living in exile in the United States.

The Flowers of Flame event is made possible through a grant from Poets & Writers. Other sponsors of this event include Mercer Commons, the University Minister’s Office, the interdisciplinary studies department, The Columbus Roberts Department of Christianity, Christianity Chair Dr. Richard Wilson, the Center for the Teaching of America’s Western Foundations, the College of Liberal Arts, the departments of philosophy, English, political science and the Atlanta Review.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,000 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit
— 30 —