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Lanat Abad / The Place of the Damned

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this mangy plot where


by now
only mothers still come,

only mothers guard the nameless plots








and then sparingly








Peepholes burnt through the metal doors

of their solitary cells,





just large enough
for three fingers to curl out
for a lemon to pass through
for an ear to be held against
for one eye then the other
to regard the hallway
to regard the cell and inmate




peepholes without a lens

so when the guard comes to inspect me,
I inspect him.


Touch me, he said.






And through that opening



I did.
Source: Poetry (December 2014)

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This poem originally appeared in the December 2014 issue of Poetry magazine

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Lanat Abad / The Place of the Damned

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  • Born in Istanbul, Turkey, to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People; and New York University. She is the author of the poetry collection Look (Graywolf Press, 2016), a finalist for the National Book Award. Her first published poem, included in A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, and Essays by Iranian-Americans (George Braziller, 1999), was written at the age of 13. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Poetry, the Kenyon Review, jubilat, Gulf Coast, Boston ReviewWitness and other publications. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, Sharif has had her work recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, scholarships from NYU and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and a fellowship at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass. Most recently, she was awarded an NEA fellowship and a Stegner Fellowship.

    In 2014, Sharif was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship...

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