Ante body

Ante body

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Author: Marwa Helal

Publisher: Nightboat Books (2022)

Ante body is a poetics of [un]rest. A project that started as an exploration of how the psychological impacts of migration and complex traumas manifest as autoimmune disease and grew into a critique of the ongoing unjust conditions that brought on the global pandemic. Continuing her use of the invented poetic form, the Arabic, and integrating Fred Moten’s concept of “the ANTE,” Helal creates an elliptical reading experience in which content and form interrogate the inner workings of patriarchy, capitalism, nationalism, and globalism.

“Marwa Helal mines the interior decolonized mind and heart in an invented form that challenges us to read, think, and feel differently; Ante body is a memorable and ferocious argument for radical fugitivity.”

Cathy Park Hong

Helal is the MC and the chorus in Ante body, opening the veil to a private, choral language of crossing and being crossed. Ante body listens to and speaks ‘live from the light unobserved,’ the sound of the expansion of the universe, the underground illuminated communication of trees. I’m made more certain of the unrootedness of language, its recursive mysticism put on display within these poems. These poems are prayer and talisman against the spell of language that seeks limitation, control.

Taylor Johnson

In Marwa Helal’s Ante body we are pulled into a tidal pool swirling and remixing language from the shores and margins. Stretching from Egypt to the United States, Helal’s work breaches borders as they ought to be breached, refusing to recognize their validity and limitations. A treatise intended on speaking to notions of 'power' from the gendered, raced, and colonized ‘subject,’ Ante body is driven by a voice embodied in the before and after. Full with humor and tilt, Ante body insists on interrogating how we come to know the present world and what we might need to cultivate a new ontology.

Matthew Shenoda