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Review: Barefoot Souls, by Maram al-Masri

The poems in Barefoot Souls were originally written in Arabic and translated into French by Al-Masri herself; Theo Dorgan translates from French.

... the way Al-Masri organises her poems is crucial to the way her poems are read. The title poem starts the collection, establishing the writer as directly involved, a participant - one of 'Those women / with faces camouflaged in blue' because they are only recognisable by 'their kind.'

From that premise, the poems set about identifying others by name, age, occupation, parents and in some instances place of birth, so they reach beyond the circumference of abuse or isolation. From 'Betty' who has only her cat, hated by everyone, to 'Monica and the others' who

have turned their bodies
into shops
in which they haggle

she highlights the details of their lives that imprison them:

how could I have imagined
he would go through the rubbish bin
finding my sanitary towels?

... This is rhetorical poetry, declamatory, angry and public, asking towards the end, 'can love heal love?'