Skip to main content

Distributed for Seagull Books

Come, Take a Gentle Stab

Selected Poems

Distributed for Seagull Books

Come, Take a Gentle Stab

Selected Poems

Introduces renowned Kurdish-Syrian writer Salim Barkat to an English audience for the first time, with translated selections from his most acclaimed works of poetry.

Although Salim Barakat is one of the most renowned and respected contemporary writers in Arabic letters, he remains virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. This first collection of his poetry in English, representing every stage of his career, remedies that startling omission. Come, Take a Gentle Stab features selections from his most acclaimed works of poetry, including excerpts from his book-length poems, rendered into an English that captures the exultation of language for which he is famous.
A Kurdish-Syrian man, Barakat chose to write in Arabic, the language of cultural and political hegemony that has marginalized his people. Like Paul Celan, he mastered the language of the oppressor to such an extent that the course of the language itself has been compelled to bend to his will. Barakat pushes Arabic to a point just beyond its linguistic limits, stretching those limits. He resists coherence, but never destroys it, pulling back before the final blow. What results is a figurative abstraction of struggle, as alive as the struggle itself. And always beneath the surface of this roiling water one can glimpse the deep currents of ancient Kurdish culture.

132 pages | 6 1/4 x 9

The Arab List


Seagull Books image

View all books from Seagull Books


"Kurdish, reclusive, demanding, inventive to the point of miracle, prolific to the point of cataracts—in the republic of Arabic letters, Salim Barakat stands apart."


“Barakat’s exceedingly resistant and exhilaratingly strange verse—paradoxically written by someone who seems absolutely rooted to the depths of the earth while yet able to see humanity as if through the mind of some other being, perhaps language itself—is finally available to English readers. One can only hope that Huda Fakhreddine and Jayson Iwen’s resounding translation summons greater interest in the work of this astonishing modern master.”

Ammiel Alcalay, poet, scholar, critic, and translator

Table of Contents

Every Insider Shall Hail Me and Every Outsider Too (1973)
Dinoka Breva, Come, Take a Gentle Stab (excerpt)
Union of Lineages

Pike (1980)
Dylana and Diram (excerpt)

With the Same Traps, with the Foxes that Ride the Winds (1982)
Fog Composed like a Gentleman

The Recklessness of Sapphire (1996)
Ledgers of Plunder (excerpt)
Digression in an Abridged Context

Confrontations, Pacts, Troughs, and Others … (1997)
Plastics (excerpt)
Ran’s Farm

From Syria (2015)

From All the Doors (2017)

Lineages of Animal (2019)
Homo Erectus

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press