Omar Sabbagh:Morning Lit

The High Window

omar pic alia cropped


Omar Sabbagh is a widely published poet, writer and critic.  His first collection was My Only Ever Oedipal Complaint and his fourth was But It was an Important Failure (Cinnamon Press, 2010 & 2020).  His latest collection, just released, is Morning Lit: Portals After Alia (Cinnamon Press, 2022).  He is currently at work on a Lebanese verse novel, The Cedar Never Dies, due to be published in 2022 with Northside Press and a collection of his published short fictions, Y Knots, is due to be published in late 2023 with Liquorice Fish.  He is Associate Professor of English at the American University in Dubai (AUD).

Alongside Alex Josephy’s review of Morning Lit: Portals After Alia  you can sample here a selection of poems taken from it.



Omar Sabbagh’s Morning Lit: Portals after Alia reviewed by Alex Josephy

omar s coverMorning Lit: Portals after Alia by Omar Sabbagh…

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The Wombwell Rainbow Book Review Growing Into: “Samara” by Graham Mort and Claire Jefferson

As a Growing Into review I will add to this over time as I sink into the book.

Samara cover-rotated

Growing Into

In Graham Mort’s effective words “Samara” moves from dusk to dusk. From a Fox in the headlights to a Little Egret. From one “up to no good” to “a pilgrim robed at water’s shrine”. Both disappear, one with its “brush” paints “itself/out into the dark.” The other “vanishes,/flown away to grace or drawn/down through earth’s mantle//to its molten core.” The accompanying artworks by Claire Jefferson emphasises the colour grey and silver of the Fox, Little Egret stands in grey and silver water that has a prominent dash of red.


Heading into March like…

Wendy Pratt

Photo by Simon Berger on

…WTF/every moment is precious. Who’d have thought that on the tail end of a global pandemic, a new potentially world devastating event was about to occur. I am sick of living through historical moments and so, so sick of the word ‘unprecedented’. I want precedented times only now, please.

It feels entirely selfish and strange to be thinking about anything other than Ukraine and kyiv, and those incredible people taking up arms against Russia and how utterly 2022 is is to have a Ukrainian president who is famous for being an actor/comedian who played the president in a sit-com. What a time to be alive. I’m watching WW III beginning on TikTok and Twitter because this is the world we live in today, one of mass communication via social media apps. I genuinely think that while those platforms have and will be used to…

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Recent Reading February 2022

Elliptical Movements

Covodes 1-19, Robert Hampson with Joanna Levi, Artery Editions, 2021, ISBN: 978-1-871671070, £10.00

You cannot see yourself with your eyes shut, Sally Barrett, Some Roast Poets, 2021, £5.00 + P+P

Wonderland in Alice: Plus Other Ways of Seeing, Paul Brookes, Jane’s Studio Press, 2021, ISBN: 978-1739828103, £5.99

Postamble, For an Invisible Sangha, Peter Jaeger, if p then q, October 2021, £8.00, ISBN: 978-1-9999547-9-6

Dánta Grádha: Love Poems from the Irish (A.D. 1350-1750), Augustus Young, (3rd, revised, edition, apparently self-published), 2021, ISBN 9781874320746, £10.00

Reading Robert Hampson’s Covodes I was immediately reminded of Brian Coffey’s statement in ‘Concerning Making’: “The political use of words kills the capacity to use words to make poems.” Hampson’s book is a set of 19 odes, of sorts, that take in Brexit, Trump, hobby space travel, the general political landscape of the last few years and, of course, Covid. The…

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Same But Different by Helen Mort & Katrina Naomi (Hazel Press)

Tears in the Fence

This enthralling collection is a collaborative project by two award-winning poets that was developed during the lockdown of 2020 in a dialogue between Penzance and Sheffield. They exchanged artwork and their favourite poems, and doing so triggered the compositions that were published without attribution after a year of conversation. Hazel Press focuses on environmental issues, climate change and feminist writing, emphasising the possibilities of renewal and survival. The poems in this collection are loosely and poignantly in line with these themes and go beyond them. The poems work in pairs and are divided into ten sections that are reminders of lockdown situations, such as the future, reflection, rise and take or give. Instinctively, we read the poems in pairs and probably think that maybe one was written by Naomi and the other by Mort. But which poem did each of them write? We will never know.

In a podcast recorded…

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The Black Pheasant

Wendy Pratt

Photo by Frank Cone on

Sometime near Christmas, it might even have been Christmas day, a black pheasant appeared in the woods and tree-lined lanes round the village. I say it was black, but in actual fact it was the most lustrous dark green/black, an oily, moss black. I was out walking the dog when it appeared from the grounds of the manor house: elegant, watchful, picking and placing its feet among the beech leaves, moving forward in that slightly hunched-shouldered way. It had with it a brown, bog standard pheasant and they were moving through the murky, rainy dusk of winter without knowing how beautiful they were.

A very bad photo of a very good bird

I kept seeing it around the village when I was out and about, sometimes with its friend, sometimes on its own. I saw it after a flurry of snow had set once…

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The Language of Dreams

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

In the space between
the dark leaf-fall of night
and frosted dawn,

an ancient bird flies
a path between flower-clouds
and thick-breathed river,

whose milk-chocolate beach listens
to the fiddle-wind whispers
of the coming storm.

Here, we wait
for honeyed shots of light
and perfumed peace,

and if we can recall
how seasons cycle
blood red sinking into cool blue

diamond prisms and shadows play–
then we know the language of dreams —
where an ancient bird flies

beneath twinkling glow
skimming the surface
between yesterday and tomorrow.

The Oracle made me work for this one. Perhaps she senses how everything seems unsettled.

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Drop in by Kate Boston-Williams

Nigel Kent - Poet and Reviewer

Today’s drop in is by another poet from the Dreich stable, Kate Boston-Williams, reflecting on a poem from her debut collection, Snake Skins. Welcome Kate.

Thank you Nigel for showing an interest in my first collection of poems “Snake Skins” and for inviting me to share my processes and inspirations for one particular poem. It’s been strange looking at it again after some time and trying to fathom exactly why I did choose to write it like that. Not as easy as I first thought. Perhaps that’s why I’ve chosen “Under Snow” it seems a quiet unassuming little poem and I suspect that’s why it’s where it is in the collection – but don’t be fooled.

These poems decided to group themselves together and shuffle about into an order. I couldn’t see the thread at first but then with careful peering a shape and a meaning emerged. They speak of…

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The Goldfish by Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul Illustrated by Emma Wright (The Emma Press)

Tears in the Fence

The poems of the Indonesian poet Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul featured inThe Goldfishtrace a journey of self-awareness and rebirth from the limited world of a fishbowl to a freedom that was difficult to achieve. The narratives are surreal and thought-provoking and challenge stereotypes concerning femininity in an often-fragmented discourse. Ayuning Maharsi Degoul’s explorations play with the ‘inhuman’ qualities of the fish but also evoke the realistic condition of a woman being constricted because of her limited environment. Her anger and disillusionment are expressed in continuous provocations that envisage sheer rebellion and suggest alternatives:

Stars are starving

Cats are getting mad

My mouth

wide open

O what I –

I need to be a newborn


delivered by a long river

O what I –



to give birth to the newest meevery day

Ovulating my apperception.(‘The Goldfish’)

‘O revolt!’ is announced in the poem ‘Rebellion Red’; she…

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Black Holes and Brown Paper Moons: Prosery

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Winslow Homer, Moonlight, Wood Island

History, I think, is light trapped in a black hole. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. Perhaps our love was also like that; something I did not see clearly then. Though how could I, or anyone, see beyond the occupation? Peace was a mirage, as was feeling comfortable. Still, we chased it. We were hiking an unmarked trail with hidden turns, pursued by beasts more horrible than any found in a fairy tale because they were human. And were you one of them? You were a shapeshifter with many names. Oh, I was a shapeshifter, too–perhaps we all were. I tell myself at night that I was working for good.

What do you tell yourself, Paul?

They said you’re dead, but I sense you out there. In my haunted dreams, I feel your presence—somewhere. Watch for me. I’m coming.

A continuation of my…

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