‘Lanterns of Hope’: A Call for Submissions by Young Iraqi Poets

The “Lanterns of Hope” poetry project is looking for poems by young Iraqis, aged 16-23, in Arabic, Kurdish, or English:

iwpAccording to organizers, the poems should “reflect in some way on life in modern-day Iraq, potentially dealing with themes like reconciliation and forgiveness.” It’s unclear how much the “reconciliation and forgiveness” aspect will be forced, but “a selection of poetry will be made by a group of prominent Iraqi writers on the basis of quality, concrete expressiveness, originality, and diversity.”

The selected poets will have their poems translated and published in Arabic, Kurdish, and English. The results will be published as an e-book and in print, although a publisher isn’t specified.

The deadline for submissions is May 1, and decisions will be made, at the latest, by the end of June.

This project is sponsored by the “Baghdad City of Literature Steering Committee,” in conjunction with the Iraqi House of Poetry, the Union of Iraqi Writers, the Iraq Literary Review (which I’d thought had gone defunct), the US Embassy in Baghdad (not sure their relationship to poetry), and the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

If you fit the criteria, you can submit here. The use of psuedonyms is allowed.


  1. Hello! I work with Iowa’s International Writing Program, helping to coordinate this project. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing our call for submissions! I can also respond to a couple of the queries in this post. First, “reconciliation” and “forgiveness” are two possible directions for submissions, but what we want most of all is just good poetry. We’re open to considering just about any submission, as long as it’s an original and concrete poem. (Although it is important to note that priority will be given to young Iraqi poets living in Iraq.) Second, the International Writing Program will be publishing the book; there will be a limited run of hard copies, but the e-book will be open for anyone to access from our website. And lastly, the embassy may seem an odd place to find people passionate about poetry and Iraqi literature, but there you are! I’m thrilled to be working with all of the talented writers, administrators, and translators involved in this project. The submissions have already begun to arrive, and I’m looking forward to reading many more!

    1. Thanks! I’ll integrate your comments — after emailing you back to confirm, just to be sure. And as long as the Embassy’s politicos don’t get any say in the poetry, I suppose, sure.

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