Dunya Mikhail

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Dunya Mikhail (born 1965 in Baghdad, Iraq) is an ethnic Assyrian United States-based poet who was born in Iraq. Mikhail worked as Literary Editor for The Baghdad Observer. Facing increasing threats and harassment from the Iraqi authorities for her writings, she fled Iraq in the late 1990s and studied Near Eastern Studies at Wayne State University. In 2001, she was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing.

Mikhail speaks and writes in Assyrian, Arabic and English. Her works include the poetry collection The War Works Hard, which won PEN's Translation Fund award and was named one of the best books of 2005 by the New York Public Library, and the genre-bending work The Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals as well as anthologies including World Beat: International Poetry Now from New Directions, Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq, and Iraqi Poetry Today: Modern Poetry in Translation. She currently lives in Michigan where she works as an Arabic resource coordinator for a local school district and university.


  • The Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea, 1999
  • The War Works Hard, (translated in 2005 by Elizabeth Winslow) (shortlisted for the 2006 International Griffin Poetry Prize)
  • The Psalms of Absence


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