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Joyce Mansour Tribute and Book Launch

August 10, 2023 @ 6:00 pm

City Lights celebrates the publication of

Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems

by Joyce Mansour

Translator: Emilie Moorhouse

Published by City Lights Books

Garrett Caples in conversation with Emilie Moorhouse

Rediscover Joyce Mansour, the most significant Surrealist poet to emerge from 1950s Paris.

“You know very well, Joyce, that you are for me–and very objectively too–the greatest poet of our time. Surrealist poetry, that’s you.”–André Breton

Joyce Mansour was a Syrian Jewish exile from Egypt whose fierce, macabre, erotically charged works gave André Breton’s Surrealist group a much-needed jolt after the ravages of the Second World War. Among new adherents, only Mansour wrote poems commensurate with those of Robert Desnos, René Char, Benjamin Pêret, and other poets from the movement’s heyday.

Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems by Joyce Mansour is a compact yet career-spanning, bilingual anthology of this incendiary poet. With a biographical introduction by translator Emilie Moorhouse, who was drawn to Mansour’s tough, take-no-prisoners stance during the societal reckoning of the #MeToo movement, Emerald Wounds showcases the entire arc of her trajectory as a poet, from the at-once gothic and minimalist fragments of her first collection in 1953, Screams, to the serpentine power of her final poems of the 1980s. Juxtaposing the original French poems with their English translations, Mansour’s voice surges forward uncensored and raw, communicating the frustrations, anger, and sadness of an intelligent, worldly woman who defies the constraints and oppression of a male-dominated society that sees women as superficial objects of desire rather than multidimensional, autonomous subjects. Mansour is a poet the world needs today.

What has been said about the work of Joyce Mansour:

“Slippery, stained, and gloriously indelicate, Joyce Mansour reveals to us the grisly face of eros.”–Elaine Kahn, author of Women in Public

“Fierce, uncompromising, intelligent, weird, assertive, abject–Joyce Mansour’s poems are a long cry of female rage and desire. The world is ‘a shitting bird, ‘ the dead ‘bloom like Parma hams, ‘ and the patriarchy subverted, mocked, & challenged at every turn, in personal relationships with men, in the fatuous advice of women’s magazines. ‘I do not know hell, ‘ Mansour writes, ‘But my body has been burning ever since I was born.’ These poems are the searing result of that life.”–Kim Addonizio, author of Now We’re Getting Somewhere

“It is high time (and way past it!) that someone bring to publishing daylight the truly great range of poems by the English/Egyptian writer artist/entertainer Joyce Patricia Adès, whom we salute as Joyce Mansour. Emilie Moorhouse has just accomplished this feat and we can gladly say, to this bilingual and welcome presentation of a large selection of those texts with City Lights, a very loud hooray!”–Mary Ann Caws, author of Symbolism, Dada, Surrealism: Selected Essays

“Among the many dark pleasures of Emerald Wounds, most marvelous is Joyce Mansour’s canny adaptation of the Surrealist impulse towards revolt to subversively femme ends. In Emilie Moorhouse’s astonishingly fresh translations, these palm-sized poems are arousing, alarming, and, finally, transformational, offering outlandish anti-psalms, sex tips from the devil, adroit instruction manuals for surviving the eradicating world. Like emeralds held so tightly they bite the flesh, these poems are compressed, brilliant works of maximum refulgence.”–Joyelle McSweeney, author of Toxicon and Arachne

“In Joyce Mansour’s exuberant, macabre, strange and sexy poems, I find such kinship, such lineage, such permission. It is such a delight to read this collection and meet her. These poems invite me to be brave, to be loud, to cackle and mourn and seduce. I only wish we’d met sooner, that I’d known sooner to place myself in her lineage.”–Safia Elhillo, author of Girls That Never Die

“Transgressive delight and terror of the supreme surreal feminist in this remarkable and most original book of dreams. Mansour, ‘an animal of the night, ‘ has been waiting to be reclaimed and counted. She who ‘prunes the sky with carnivorous thighs, ‘ who ruse lies in a chignon is wonderfully abetted in these excellent, luminous translations. A poet who listens to the ‘dialect of undressed sexes, ‘ and ‘pierces the stagnant eye of the night’ is the aligning, yet jolting force we’ve all been anticipating. This is her moment.”–Anne Waldman, author of Bard, Kinetic

“In the poetry of Joyce Mansour, we feel the churn of the devouring and excreting body and its parts. Each part emits parts: the lover births his sex; the receptive octopus outputs its legs like a burst seedpod. Vicious as childbirth, delicate as the tension in a throat about to speak, Mansour’s poems demand we attend to the forbidden maximums of our desires.”–Sophia Dahlin, author of Natch

“This legendary Surrealist woman poet with her singular lyric fusion of love and death, phantasies of gleeful and grim inexorability, constructs radical strategies of irrational disjunction. . . .Translated with verve by Emilie Moorhouse.”–Norma Cole, author of Fate News

Emerald Wounds feels like a resuscitation. Joyce Mansour’s Arab Jewish consciousness sticks its tongue out in the face of macho Euro mores. Given new breath by translator Emilie Moorhouse, Mansour’s work is phantastic, inverted, explicit, full of spells. It seems to predict and override the world’s weakening lust, calling out from a past of feverish slits, Sekhmet and the joy of piss.”–Tamara Faith Berger, author of Maidenhead

This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation. To learn more visit:



August 10, 2023
6:00 pm


City Lights Bookstore
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