Hedy Habra is a 3rd Wednesday contributor of both poetry and visual art. Her poem, “Or Have You Ever Wondered Why She is Looking Back?” was featured Volume XII, No 2 of Third Wednesday and her painting Poet Under Pine Tree graces the cover of No 4.
Hedy has authored Under Brushstrokes and Tea in Heliopolis, winner of the USA Best Book Award. Her story collection, Flying Carpets won the Arab American Book Award’s Honorable Mention. A fourteen-time nominee for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, her work appears in numerous publications. Her website is hedyhabra.com
“The poems in The Taste of the Earth weave together personal history with the complex cultural heritage of Hedy Habra’s countries of origin. Steeped in memories, loss and longing, these poems invite the reader to revisit Egypt’s mythical past and Lebanon’s turmoil, recalling the intersecting roots of culture and language in an act of artistic recollection that bridges time and space. Through the lyrical power of the senses, Habra’s poems bring to life scenes of strife and upheaval as well as profound joy. Such images linger in the mind and keep evolving in search for the permanence of beauty within suffering as they are evoked by trees, houses, fountains and familiar objects, each voice offering with its testimony a broader perspective on the interconnectedness of worlds and universality of emotions.”
The Taste of the Earth contains numerous histories—from Egypt’s distant past to the Lebanese Civil War to the Arab Spring—though history is not “the straight line that accompanies silence.” These poems confess that image can hide the smell of blood and the smell of jasmine, both the terrible and the sweet in the story of a place. Habra also teaches us that it is not just language and maps that tell history, but that objects carry what they have witnessed, the truths they are waiting to speak. —Traci Brimhall, author of Saudade
In this lush collection, the force of the lyric brings imagination, witness, myth, and memory into an opulent confluence. With formal variation—from the Japanese haibun, to the Malay pantoum, to an abecedarian composed of Phoenician letters, to an intersection of the senses and mathematics via the Eye of Horus—Habra’s poems enact art as the process of “remembering and forgetting,/telling and retelling.” As the focus here, often, is war and its devastations, witnessed and remembered, The Taste of the Earth is rife with sorrow songs, but each is moored by the speaker as a beholder of earth’s beauty as it pours in through the senses and finds a home in language: “[T]he jacaranda’s blue light anchors me back,” Habra writes, “whispering, yes, it’s here, deep inside, fluttering like a dove’s wings.” —Diane Seuss, author of Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl
These are a painter’s poems, sensuous and filled with scenes under the surface. In her journey, Hedy Habra digs into the roots to find stories of wisdom. What’s special about these stories is that, even though they are painful, their exotic flavor is of earth, which belongs to everyone. They wander through memory and, image by image, settle in the soul “as sand in an hourglass.” —Dunya Mikhail, author of In Her Feminine Sign
You may be sitting in your favorite chair at home when you begin to read Hedy Habra’s latest collection of poems, The Taste of the Earth, but that’s not where you’ll be. You’ll be in Damascus, Heliopolis, Beirut, Aleppo. Before you know it, as if dreaming, you’ll be gliding along the streets of these cities, listening to their sounds, overhearing bits of conversation. Born in Egypt, Habra is part of the diaspora of Middle Easterners compelled to leave lands they love due to war and upheaval. There is longing for home in every sense of the word—for a place, a person, a taste, a story, a particular light, a language, a gesture, a laugh. It is this longing that makes these poems universal, regardless of where you are as you read them. —Susan Azar Porterfield, winner of the Cider Press Review Editor’s Prize for Dirt, Root, Silk.