READ THE WORLD – Jordan: Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems by Amjad Nasser

Translated by Khaled Mattawa.

A collection of poems from various collections between 1979-2004.

I don’t think I’ve read a poetry collection before that’s been an example of almost a poets life’s work. I think generally the collections I’ve read have been just the poets latest work or work around a certain theme. With Shepherd of Solitude it’s split into sections, with each of them being a selection of poems from a prior poetry collection. Sometimes there’s only four poems from a collection while sometimes there’s over a dozen.

I like how Shepherd of Solitude starts with poems from 1979 and ends with the ones from 2004. That way you can see how Nasser’s style may change over time, but also how the topics or themes of his poems can change as time went on too. Like any kind of artist, it’s unlikely that you’ll stay interested in the same thing for almost thirty years so it makes sense that his poems focus changes over time too.

In Shepherd of Solitude the poems reference historic events or figures, there’s religious themes in some of them, as well as being poems about love and connection. It’s an interesting mix and I did appreciate the fact that there’s footnotes explaining things like the historical context for poems that needed them. The introduction by Khaled Mattawa was also helpful in understanding the poet and the way he wrote.

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