Dunya Mikhail

She // Her // Hers

[ID: Dunya, an Iraqi-American person with long brown hair and wearing a navy blue dress with earrings, smiles at the camera.]

Poet and Writer
Sterling Heights, MI
2021 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by Anonymous.

Iraqi American poet Dunya Mikhail was born in Baghdad and moved to the United States in 1996. After graduating from the University of Baghdad, Mikhail worked as a journalist and translator for the Baghdad Observer. Facing censorship and interrogation, she left Iraq, moving first to Jordan and then to America, where she settled in Detroit. She earned an MA at Wayne State University and currently teaches Arabic at Oakland University in Rochester, MI.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, Mikhail is “one of the foremost poets of our time.” With irony and subversive simplicity, she addresses themes of war, exile, and loss, using forms such as reportage, fable, and lyric. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Knight Foundation grant, a Kresge Artist Fellowship, and Human Rights Watch’s Hellman/Hammett grant. Her writing has garnered attention from PBS NewsHour, New YorkerThe New York Times, the Guardian, and Poetry, among others.

Her books, published by New Directions, include The War Works Hard, short-listed for the Griffin Poetry Prize; Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea, winner of the Arab American Book Award for Poetry; The Iraqi Nights; and In Her Feminine Sign, a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice and one of the New York Public Library’s Best Poetry Books of 2019. Mikhail’s The Beekeeper was a finalist for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction and long-listed for the National Book Award.

Portrait photo by Nina Subin.