Hard Damage

Hard Damage

4.9 (22 ratings by Goodreads)
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Hard Damage works to relentlessly interrogate the self and its shortcomings. In lyric and documentary poems and essayistic fragments, Aria Aber explores the historical and personal implications of Afghan American relations. Drawing on material dating back to the 1950s, she considers the consequences of these relations-in particular the funding of the Afghan mujahedeen, which led to the Taliban and modern-day Islamic terrorism-for her family and the world at large.

Invested in and suspicious of the pain of family and the shame of selfhood, the speakers of these richly evocative and musical poems mourn the magnitude of citizenship as a state of place and a state of mind. While Hard Damage is framed by free-verse poetry, the middle sections comprise a lyric essay in fragments and a long documentary poem. Aber explores Rilke in the original German, the urban melancholia of city life, inherited trauma, and displacement on both linguistic and environmental levels, while employing surrealist and eerily domestic imagery.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 126 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 7.62mm | 195.04g
  • Lincoln, United States
  • English
  • 1496215702
  • 9781496215703
  • 59,621

Table of contents

Reading Rilke in Berlin
I. How to pronounce John Frusciante Correctly
First Snow
The first twenty-four hours in the Refugee Camp, A Faith
Family Reunion
Can You Describe Your Years in Prison?
Azalea Azalea
Funeral in Paris
Landscape with The New York Times
Dream with Horse
Blessed Are the Rich
Ode to My Hair
What Your Life was Like
II. Nostalgia is Not the Right Word
Reading Rilke at Lake Mendota, Wisconsin
I Want to Be with Those Who Know Secret Things or Else Alone
At the hospital, my language
Self-Portrait as Wounded Doe of Artemis
My Father Drives Me to Dusseldorf Airport
Foreign Policies
ich/ I
Lass / Let
dir / you
Alles / All
Geschehn: / Happen
Schoenheit / Beauty
Und / And
Schrecken / Terror
Covert United States Involvement in Regime Change, I
Covert United States Involvement in Regime Change, II
Operation Timber Sycamore
IV. Mother of All Balms
Fata Morgana, 1987
Your whole life must become a sign and witness to this impulse
Operation Cyclone, Years Later
The Only Cab Service of Farmington, Maine
Inventory of Lost Conditionals
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Review quote

"At turns scathing and tender, ironic and keening, Aber writes richly of warfare and Rilke, German and English alike. There is too much barbed beauty for my few sentences to contain, though Aber's do-elegantly, dangerously. A tremendous debut we are lucky to behold."-Solmaz Sharif, author of Look
-- Solmaz Sharif "Aria Aber's Hard Damage confronts the reader with both a masterful directness and lyrical clarity. Though the poet pays homage to tradition, these poems also realize a voice and experience-truth and sonority, spirit and grit-that are individual. Each turn in this narrative of dislocation dares a root-fed luminosity. Indeed, the speaker of Hard Damage transverses multiple way stations (Kabul, Berlin, Paris, New York City, and elsewhere), always carrying history and family through these migrations. This necessary collection possesses passion and wisdom."-Yusef Komunyakaa, author of The Emperor of Water Clocks

-- Yusef Komunyakaa "With disarming ease, Aria Aber's Hard Damage leaps from the personal to the political, from song to theory, from Rilke to 'Afghan blow,' from a German childhood back to an earlier Afghani family history, ending up in a richly vexed American life. These juxtapositions are electrifying, eloquent. . . . 'What is it that we owe to each other?' Aber asks, calling us into 'history's collateral light.'"-Catherine Barnett, author of Human Hours -- Catherine Barnett "Revel in the rise of this searing, essential new voice. Aria Aber's Hard Damage is an expansive debut that contends with the hard truth of how elusive belonging, and reckoning, is. . . . Every word, every phrase [of Hard Damage] is crafted to incise, with its electric currents of images that make up the lives of refugee mothers, fathers, and daughters, and the inherent homesickness of language, wars. This debut seduces, critiques, mourns, ruptures, replenishes-and not without humor and wit. By the end I found myself completely thrilled that poetry can have this many possibilities."-Sally Wen Mao, author of Oculus -- Sally Wen Mao "Aria Aber presses language until it yields up its secret meanings in this wide-ranging, cosmopolitan, remarkably Rilkean first book of poems. Hard Damage is haunted by questions of inheritance, of home and homelessness, of historical crisis, and it is suffused throughout with a dual feeling of Beauty and Terror. What a marvelous debut!"-Edward Hirsch, author of A Poet's Glossary and How to Read a Poem -- Edward Hirsch
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About Aria Aber

Aria Aber is a Ron Wallace Poetry Fellow at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her poems have appeared in the Kenyon Review, the New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Narrative, and other publications.
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Rating details

22 ratings
4.9 out of 5 stars
5 91% (20)
4 9% (2)
3 0% (0)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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