Before she was forced to flee to America, Dunya Mikhail was the literary editor of the Baghdad Observer. Renowned for her subversive, innovative and satirical lyrics and fables, Dunya’s award-winning poetry explores war, exile, love and loss. She speaks with Michael Kelleher about her prolific body of work, about using metaphor and symbolism to evade censorship in Iraq, the perniciousness of self-censorship in the West, and why she says “poetry is not medicine [but] an X-ray”.

Dunya Mikhail (International)

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Dunya Mikhail worked as a journalist for the Baghdad Observer before she was forced to flee Iraq. Her poetry collection The War Works Hard was shortlisted for the Griffin Prize. Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea won the 2010 Arab American Book Award for poetry. Her latest work is The Beekeeper of Sinjar, the compelling story of how an Iraqi beekeeper saved the lives of Yazidi women sold into slavery by Isis. Dunya has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Knights Foundation grant, a Kresge Fellowship, and the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She works as a special lecturer of Arabic at Oakland University in Michigan.

Michael Kelleher (International)

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Michael Kelleher is a US poet and Director of Yale's Windham-Campbell Literature Prizes. His most recent poetry collections are Visible Instruments and Museum Hours.