Title: Poems that do not sleep
Author: Hassan Al Nawwab
Publisher: Fremantle Press
Published: June 2021
‘I write scenes from life that the eye cannot see, as if I were trying to paint air or spirit.’A poet’s sigh by Hassan Al Nawwab
Poems that do not sleep by Hassan Al Nawwab is an evocative collection of writing that reveals the horrors of a war-ravaged homeland and a war-ravaged mind. This collection also includes beautifully reverent pieces on coming to Australia and the distance felt between one’s homeland and this new land now called home. Nawwab’s collections reveals his feelings of separation from his homeland and coming to terms with being away for so long.
The collection of poems is written in both English and Arabic; the versions are gracefully presented with the poems in English on the left-hand pages and Arabic on the opposite right-hand pages. While I cannot read Arabic, inclusion of the language show homage to Nawwab’s homeland. Trying to find where the English letters met the Arabic was intriguing and I spent a time on each open page working through where the English words might appear on the Arabic side.
The collection is separated in to two parts. The first, “Tree flying” depicts much of Nawwab’s experiences as a soldier in his home country. The soldier’s sorrows laid bare to readers, with emotive pieces like Memories on page 50 that tells of a soldier returning from war. “Diaspora” is the collection’s second part and reveals the destruction left behind after experiencing war and what it means to be living in a new and foreign country. Sneer on page 94 sits deep in your heart as you read it, following a refugee’s experience. An experience so wholly unique not even reading it another two or three times could I begin to imagine the emotions felt.
The collection of poems speaks to the reader and leaves a mark once the book has been shut. I was enthralled and teary eyes when reading experiences that I could not even begin to imagine appeared. Poems that do not sleep is a unique reading experience that provides insight to a life so many are far removed from and reveals the healing nature of writing. Purchasing yourself a copy of Nawwab’s work would be an incredible opportunity in understanding and expanding your mind to view the experiences of others around you.