The Hammar is a marshland area in Nasiriyah, Iraq. Saddam drained the marshes in order to control the Marsh Arabs. 

Capel Celyn is an area in North Wales that was flooded in 1965 to provide a greater water supply to Liverpool… 

Imagine they drained the Hammar   

to flood Capel Celyn: an exchange of tears, 

people displaced like chess board pawns. 

Part the whispering reeds’ soft curls 

and watch smatterings of life drift lost. 

As the little Welsh town fills with water, 

hear the pained goodbyes of women  

who tattoo each other’s stories in secret. 

History is always the beauty and blood. 

Hanan Issa, National Poet of Wales 


This poem was recently translated to Welsh by Iestyn Tyne as well as French and Dutch and shared at Transpoesie Festival, Brussels.

Beauty and Blood along with the translations can be read on Transpoesie’s website:  

‘Beauty and Blood’ was originally published in My Body Can House Two Hearts, Hanan Issa (Burning House)

Back to Hanan Issa’s Commissioned Poems and Creative Work