What to Count
With heart and insight, the poems in Alise Alousi’s What to Count speak to what it means to come of age as an Iraqi American during the first Gulf War and its continuing aftermath, but also to the joy and complexity of motherhood, daughterhood, and what it means to live a creative life. More than a description of the world, Alousi’s poetry actively lives in and of the world. These poems explore the nuances of memory through the changes wrought by time, conflict, and distance. In “The Ocularist” and “Art,” and others, Alousi’s extraordinary verbal deftness precisely locates the still-tender pains and triumphs of collective being while trying to be an individual in the world. What to Count is a remarkable collection of contemporary poetry—both a lyrical splendor and a contemplative account of lineage, silenced history, and identity.