Hajar Hussaini’s poems in Disbound scrutinize the social, political, and historical traces inherited from one’s language. The traces she finds—the flow of international commodities implied in a plosive consonant, an image of the world’s nations convening to reject the full stop—retrieve a personal history between countries (Afghanistan and the United States) and languages (Persian and English) that has been constantly disrupted and distorted by war, governments, and media. Hussaini sees the subjectivity emerging out of these traces as mirroring the governments to whom she has been subject, blurring the line between her identity and her legal identification. The poems of Disbound seek beauty and understanding in sadness and confusion, and find the chance for love in displacement, even as the space for reconciliation in politics and thought seems to get narrower.
“Hussaini’s debut collection is radical in the fullest sense of the word: deeply rooted, innovative, truth-telling. Fiercely attentive to the complex bonds and disbindings of personhood, family, and nation, these poems also delight in art’s capacity to make a world—a parallel site of desire and belonging—without turning away from the realities of all that is coming apart around it. This is work of lasting imaginative power.”
—Elizabeth Willis, author, Address
“In Disbound, Hussaini builds an enduring monument out of war’s remnants. The poet unflinchingly takes up the exile’s task of taking inventory. Past and present, inner and outer, loss and longing meet on the page to trace a personal history against a nation’s history of unrelenting war. In language that is at once precise and haunting, Hussaini creates exquisite order out of disorder.”—Fowzia Karimi, author, Above Us the Milky Way
“Hussaini’s Disbound is a penetrating collection of poems that quietly magnify, with cerebral discernment, the left-behind world of home in Kabul as war and the quotidian continue. These poems awaken our memory to a careful present tense of pith description. The heart-kept is distilled in both deftly turning lyrics and deeply experimental fragments. Her innovative language shakes us with its brilliance and guides us into the reality of these arresting poems.”
—Prageeta Sharma, author, Grief Sequence
“Hussaini's Disbound begins with what has fallen apart amid war and migration, shaping its poetics into a powerful interrogation of what persists, what brings shame, what we refuse to look at, what's left behind, and what never comes back. What is most striking about this brilliant first book is how it develops a vocabulary and syntax of the many types of violences produced by the failures of conquest and empire.”—Daniel Borzutzky, author, Lake Michigan