POEMS STEEPED IN THE SOMALI TRADITION REFRACT THE STREETS OF FERGUSON, THE HALLS OF GUANTÁNAMO, AND THE FIELDS NEAR ABU GHRAIB THROUGH THE MYTH OF ADAM AND EVE TO ASK: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A REFUGEE?
Exiles of Eden looks at the origin story of Adam, Eve, and their exile from the Garden of Eden, exploring displacement and alienation from its mythological origins to the present. In this formally experimental collection steeped in Somali narrative tradition, Osman gives voice to the experiences and traumas of displaced people over multiple generations. The characters in these poems encounter exile’s strangeness while processing the profoundly isolating experience of knowing that once you are sent out of Eden, you can’t go back.
Ladan Osman, Somali-born poet and essayist, is the author of The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize, and the chapbook Ordinary Heaven, which appeared in the box set Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press, 2014).
Winner of a 2021 Whiting Award
Winner of the 2020 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry
“Ladan Osman's dazzling and incisive poetry creates vibrant connections between generations of women, between the self and history, and between our bodies and the natural world.” -- Whiting Awards Judges' Citation
“A generous, rooted, and humbly adamant quest for agency.” -- Publishers Weekly
“A stellar collection . . . in this political moment charged with so much frustration and sorrow, Exiles of Eden offers the triumph we all need.” -- World Literature Today
“Osman delivers an incredibly urgent call to action against founding narratives that are so prevalent in American society, and which are poisonous to women and people of color.” -- Africa is a Country
“Exile here is a daily longing, a gift and curse of an outsider eye, an experience that grapples with the word ‘relative’ in all its meanings.” -- The Adirondack Review
“Ladan Osman has an abundance of talent, and she is one of a kind. There is informed wisdom to her poetry, which, on top of being moving, inspires the reader with positive thinking. A wonderful collection.” -- Nuruddin Farah
[P] Coffee House Press / May 17, 2019
0.4" H x 8.8" L x 5.8" W (0.3 lbs) 128 pages