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Tea In Heliopolis, Reviews by Diane Wakowski, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ravi Shankar & Pablo Medina


“The poems of Tea in Heliopolis form the story of a family, sometimes tragic, sometimes searingly beautiful, and always exotic, seen through the eyes of a painter. The trope of life, as moments flowing from the paintbrush wielded skillfully by a poet, allows Hedy Habra to capture details redolent of old masters, exquisite and visceral, and creates her remembered world with the wild imagination and color of a Van Gogh. Moving through life in Egypt, to Beirut, then to America, with a kind of post-Newtonian sense of everything happening simultaneously, the chronicle captures the bravery it takes to remember and yet experience a beauty transcendent to pain. This is a remarkable book of poetry.” 

          —Diane Wakowski, author of Emerald Ice


“Hedy Habra's hospitable poems, lush with intricate landscapes of relating and remembering, are so rich they make me homesick. Here are worlds, both ancient and modern, spun and sung in shining wonder.” 

          —Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Transfer


“From Egypt to Lebanon to the freshwater coastline of Michigan, Hedy Habra's Tea in Heliopolis is a collection full of ancestral gestures, sensual imaginings, and songs turning unerringly into legend. Shapely, timeless lyrics that range from continent to continent, past to present, with a wisdom born of Rita Hayworth, African drums, and almond trees, Habra has a knack of turning phrases that make us reconsider our own place on earth. And in a prodigious and moving poem like ‘Raoucheh,’ she gives voice to a forcibly silenced people as only a true poet can. This is a necessary and rhapsodic book of poems.”

          —Ravi Shankar, author of Instrumentality


“Tea in Heliopolis is an irresistible book, offering poems of exquisite charm and sensibility. Both cinematic and painterly, moving across vast swaths of ancient geography, Habra’s work brings to our senses the world of Lebanese parlors and Cairo streets, of women lost in prayers and men playing backgammon in tea houses, but she doesn’t stop there. With her wise and compassionate language she invites us to understand and share their lives. Cavafy and Adonis come to mind, but Habra is a poet uniquely herself. Led by her masterly pen we cannot help but respond to her invitation. Tea in Heliopolis takes you on a voyage richly textured with Old World mystery and New World urgency.” 

          —Pablo Medina, author of Cubop City Blues

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