Award-winning Poet, Essayist
“Alsadir reads the human psyche with brilliant rigor and generosity, patiently prodding underneath the surface of human behavior, language, politics, and race to get at the root of the real. I came away feeling more awake, more present, and more connected to myself and the world.” —Cathy Park Hong
“Animal Joy jumps for intellectual joy, hopscotching from literary criticism to philosophy and psychology to political analysis. Yet, by sleight of pen, these philosophy-laden pages remain light and graceful. This book is an alarm, ringing with the ‘holy intensity’ of poetry.” —The Washington Post
“Alsadir’s quiet wit and depth of knowledge leads to unique insights and profound self-reflection.” —Kirkus Reviews
Nuar Alsadir is a poet, nonfiction writer, and psychoanalyst. She is the author of the books Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation (Graywolf, 2022), which was one of TIME Magazine’s 100 must-read books of 2022 and a best book of 2022 from Publishers Weekly; Fourth Person Singular (Liverpool University Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize for Best Collection in England and in Ireland; and More Shadow Than Bird (Salt Publishing, 2012).
Her most recent book, Animal Joy is an ode to spontaneity and feeling alive. In this invigorating, continuously surprising book about the serious nature of laughter, Alsadir ranges from her experience in clown school, Anna Karenina’s morphine addiction, Freud’s un-Freudian behaviors, marriage brokers and war brokers, to “Not Jokes,” the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, laugh tracks, the problem with adjectives, and how poetry can wake us up. At the center of the book, however, is the author’s relationship with her daughters, who erupt into the text like sudden, unexpected laughter. These interventions are like tiny revolutions, pointedly showing the dangers of being severed from one’s true self and hinting at ways one might be called back to it.
Melissa Holbrook Pierson of The Washington Post observed, “The book is in effect a gift to the courageous. It offers an opportunity for self-reflection and growth that, as in psychoanalysis, necessitates a head-on collision with pain. It is no happenstance that Alsadir is careful to establish the roots of empathy in the mirror neurons that facilitate the primal need for kinship care. Authentic art arises from and serves the same function, making us ‘feel moved by experiences that are not our own.’ Great art mainly makes you not think but feel. Animal Joy made me do both. Its author practices two disparate disciplines — poetry and psychoanalysis — that she argues are essentially the same. In a neat corollary, her book forms a subtly engineered bridge between art and reason.”
Claudia Rankine said, “To read Animal Joy is to become alive to the condition of wakefulness in the world. This spectacular achievement by the psychoanalyst and writer Nuar Alsadir provokes and destabilizes our understanding of a life’s competing narratives. I can think of no other contemporary work of nonfiction that brings together autobiography, a learned history of psychoanalysis, lyrical poetics, ontological investigations of our attempt to manage our own feelings with such astute engagement. This is a work that will change conversations about who we are, what we think motivates us, what makes us us. The meeting place of intentional and the unintentional erupts in Animal Joy in order that we might reinvestigate our incoming thoughts and feelings with a sense of vigor and curiosity. If you are open to introducing ‘tiny revolutions’ of thought into your life by resisting received and uninterrogated scripts, read this book.”
Alsadir’s poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including The Paris Review, Granta, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, BOMB, The Yale Review, Ploughshares, Poetry London, and The Kenyon Review. She appears on Showtime’s docuseries, Couples Therapy, as one of the psychoanalysts in the peer supervision group, in the third, fourth and fifth seasons.
She lives in New York City, where she works as a psychoanalyst in private practice.
Nuar Alsadir’s most recent book, Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation (Graywolf Press/Fitzcarraldo Editions), was a TIME Magazine must-read of 2022 and a Publisher’s Weekly Best Book of 2022. She is also the author of two poetry collections: Fourth Person Singular, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Forward Prize for Best Collection, and More Shadow Than Bird. She is a fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities and a member of the curatorial board of The Racial Imaginary Institute. She works as a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York.
Animal Joy: A Book of Laughter and Resuscitation
“Gorgeously written and by turns hilarious and crushing, Alsadir’s examination of humanity’s ‘savage complexity’ is not to be missed.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
Laughter shakes us out of our deadness. An outburst of spontaneous laughter is an eruption from the unconscious that, like political resistance, poetry, or self-revelation, expresses a provocative, impish drive to burst free from external constraints. Taking laughter’s revelatory capacity as a starting point, and rooted in Nuar Alsadir’s experience as a poet and psychoanalyst, Animal Joy seeks to recover the sensation of being present and embodied. Writing in a poetic, associative style, blending the personal with the theoretical, Alsadir ranges from her experience in clown school, Anna Karenina’s morphine addiction, Freud’s un-Freudian behaviors, marriage brokers and war brokers, to “Not Jokes,” Abu Ghraib, Fanon’s negrophobia, smut, the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, laugh tracks, the problem with adjectives, and how poetry can wake us up. At the center of the book, however, is the author’s relationship with her daughters, who erupt into the text like sudden, unexpected laughter. These interventions—frank, tender, and always a challenge to the writer and her thinking—are like tiny revolutions, pointedly showing the dangers of being severed from one’s true self and hinting at ways one might be called back to it. A bold and insatiably curious prose debut, Animal Joy is an ode to spontaneity and feeling alive.
Fourth Person Singular
“One of the strangest, most provocative books of poetry to arrive in these islands in many years.” –Dave Coates
Fourth Person Singular continues to blow open the relationship between self and world in a working through of lyric shame, bending poetic form through fragment, lyric essay, aphorisms mined from the unconscious, and pop-up associations, to explore the complexities, congruities, disturbances – as well as the beauty – involved in self-representation in language. As unexpected as it is bold, Alsadir’s ambitious tour de force demands we pay new attention to the current conversation about the nature of lyric – and human relationships – in the 21st century.
More Shadow Than Bird
“These are distinctive, tight, sonic little mysteries. Dickinson abides here.” —David Baker, The Kenyon Review
The poems in More Shadow Than Bird are imagistic narratives of emotional situations that offer not the story of a life, but of the consciousness accompanying the life lived. This consciousness, even as it operates on a more symbolic level, is embodied-not abstract or removed- conveying a sense of rawness and honesty that is rare in non-representational work.
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