Introduction to Issue 5’s Arab Heritage Poetry Special Feature


by Poetry Editor Zein Sa’dedin

There has never been a time in which marginalised voices did not matter. Never a time more urgent than the one before. The margin has been and will continue to be a source of generative and revolutionary poetics – whether properly credited or not. To claim that our current political moment, as threatening and frightening as it may be, demands a more urgent diversity of voices than before would be a disservice to our literary ancestors.

It has always been our duty to support each other as readers, writers, and editors. It has always been our responsibility as curators to give our time, attention, and support to those whose work gets neglected, tokenised, and discredited because of their identities. As a community, we have failed many who have come before us and many who write among us. Our responsibility now is to acknowledge our failures and to catch up – to listen to and amplify those around us so as not to repeat our mistakes.

I hope this feature inspires such action.

The poets included here all share an Arab heritage. I know, from personal experience, how often that heritage gets reduced to a singular, politicised narrative of what Arabness entails. These poets rightfully refuse any and all such tokenisation.

Their work spans varying concerns, tones, forms, and histories in infinitely compelling ways. Since the notion of Arabness refuses any singular definition, any singular way to exist as Arab, there can be no singular way to write from the heritage of Arabness. These thrilling poets write about it, through it, from it, within it, against it.

I am forever honoured to share a heritage and a community with them. I, as reader, as poet, as Arab, am grateful for as well as energised by their work’s grace and scope.

I hope you, our readers, are as well.


Zein Sa’dedin is a Jordanian poet currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of St Andrews in Scotland. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Muzzle Magazine, Winter TangerineSukoon Magazine, Breakwater Review, and others.

View the Arab Heritage Featured Poets

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