Poetry. Middle Eastern Studies. "As critic Jacqueline Rose says of Mahmoud Darwish, here is a poetry that writes back. Fragmentary by nature, this innovative dream sequence speaks across borders, interrogating the language of power relationships and singing toward a longed for home. These clips of language beg for recovery, for coherence in a world unlikely to cohere. 'What is causality, / for x to lead to y? What / is loss of land?' asks Masannat in 50 WATER DREAMS, her essential debut." Sally Keith
"How rare and exhilarating it is, in our time, to find a book that is both wildly inventive and daring in its style and incredibly compelling in its content! 50 WATER DREAMS takes us on a book-long journey of Fadia and Ishmael and a mysterious horse that keeps the house company ('horse that humanizes the house, ' 'horse that may keep the house from dying'). The romance here is this: Fadia's father was a dead man forced to go home on foot & Ishmael's mother exiled. What happens in this book? Cruelty and passion and heartbreak become a myth for our times of conflict. How lucky we are to find a poetry debut that isn't afraid of ideas, of mysteries, of politics, of passion. How brave she is to say 'I saw nobody coming so I went instead.' And to dare us: 'I want to put you in my revolution.' Like Zbigniew Herbert, this poet wants 'to hide you in my eyelids & the nation, ' like Venus Khoury-Ghata, she makes a mythological pastoral, a book of voices that speak for more than one person." Ilya Kaminsky
"50 WATER DREAMS beckons us into a mysterious world of broken tesserae, a dispersed mosaic the reader must puzzle over to reconstruct. What we discover, as the pieces begin to fit, is that Siwar Masannat subversively flips the script of scripture, and invites us to re-read what we thought we knew as the story of a land called 'holy.' In her words, 'Fadia, I say I dare not blink. If I could, / hide you in my eyelids & the nation, / too.' If peace is to come between Israelis and Palestinians, it may require this sort of utter recasting and frame- breaking. An auspicious and unblinking debut!" Philip Metres"
Siwar Masannat is an Arab writer from Amman, Jordan. She holds an MFA in poetry from George Mason University and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Siwar co-founded Gazing Grain Press, a chapbook publisher open to feminists of every gender and sexuality. Her poems and articles have appeared in Denver Quarterly, VOLT, Gargoyle, and 7iber.me, among others.