Arc Publications logo

50 years at the cutting edge of poetry publishing

“A meeting point for poets of all latitudes”
— Víctor Rodríguez Núñez

Five Scenes from a Failed Revolution

by Ashur Etwebi

Translated by the author and James Byrne.

The poems in this collection move from memories of Libya before the revolution, to Libya engulfed in violent turmoil, to life in exile in the brooding landscape of Norway. Seen through the eyes of the refugee poet, the vibrant colours of the Libyan landscape, the horrors and ravages of revolution, and the strangeness of a new life within the Arctic Circle, come into sharp focus in this powerful book.

In Five Scenes from a Failed Revolution, Etwebi deftly
moves through time, space, argument and protest to
capture the essence of the 2011 Arab Spring along
with fragments from the poet’s past. The work brims
with astonishing technique and lyricism, holding
both the poet’s personal history and that of the
onlooking world. ‘Oh bird, from the treetop, can you
see Etwebia? / Can you smell the orange blossoms
of my dead brother?’ In this utt erly arresting image
taken from ‘Norwegian Blues’, Etwebi eff ortlessly
transcends the present, shooting his poems way
into an atmosphere without end. As tragic as it
sometimes feels, this for me is the collection’s most
remarkable achievement.


Etwebi maintains his composure as a lyric poet…
insisting on distilled moments of revelation while
addressing his nation Libya’s most turbulent epochs
… [these] poems provide solace and rejuvenate,
holding on to memory and the purity of their
anguish. This is a stunning, beautiful book, one I’ve
been awaiting for a long time.


ISBN: 9781910345726
Published January 2022

» About Ashur Etwebi