Mothers Over Nangarhar, Pamela Hart

Hart Mothers Over Nangarhar.jpg
Pam Hart c.Steve Rago .jpg
Hart Mothers Over Nangarhar.jpg
Pam Hart c.Steve Rago .jpg

Mothers Over Nangarhar, Pamela Hart


Pre-order only. Available January 2019.

Winner of the 2017 Kathryn A. Morton Prize

Mothers Over Nangarhar is an unusual and powerful war narrative, focusing less on the front lines of combat and more on the home front, a perspective our American cultural canon has largely ignored after 222 years at war. In her stunning poetry debut, Pamela Hart concentrates on the fears and psychological battles suffered by parents, lovers, and friends during a soldier’s absence and return home, if indeed there’s a return. With honest grit and compassionate imagination, Hart describes her own experience having a son overseas, incorporating lyric meditations, photography, news articles, support group meetings, family interviews, oral histories, and classic literature to construct a documentary-style narrative very much situated in the now. Blending reality with absurdism and guided openly by a Calvino kind of logic, Hart reveals to us a crucial American point of view.

An unusual and powerful war narrative told in poetry, focusing on the psychological battles suffered by parents, lovers, and friends on the home front. 

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Pamela Hart is writer in residence at the Katonah Museum of Art where she teaches and manages an arts-in-education program called Thinking Through the Arts. She was awarded an NEA poetry fellowship in 2013. She recently received the Brian Turner Literary Arts prize for poetry. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals including the Southern Humanities Review, Bellevue Literary Review and Drunken Boat. Toadlily Press published her chapbook, The End of the Body. She is poetry editor and mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project.


“This honest and compassionate debut from the mother of a soldier adopts a rarely seen focus in the annals of wartime literature, turning attention toward the home front rather than the combat front.”

Publishers Weekly 

"Hart is also publishing a book of poems, Mothers over Nangarhar, inspired by her work."

O, The Oprah Magazine

Mothers Over Nangarhar moves through its mazy, crazed world of intimate and global conflict, exterior and interior pain, searching and assured. It is a beautiful, strong, and vulnerable work for our beautiful, strong, and increasingly vulnerable world.”

—Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Mothers Over Nangarhar is like no book of poetry I’ve read. It tells of the mothers whose ‘beautiful and dangerous’ children and partners fight our world’s wars. Their emotions are difficult to imagine, but we don’t need to imagine them, since these poems deliver them with lyric precision directly to our hearts. The stories the book includes are both eternal (‘the long war goes on’) and heartbreakingly particular (‘There was the time I told your cradle I was done / Locked you in the van then shopped at Walgreens’), and Pamela Hart is a storyteller aware of all of a story’s implications: ‘Can he kill is a story. Will the mother blame herself could be another.’ Mothers Over Nangarhar is a document, a warning, a lament—beautiful and dangerous.”

—Kathleen Ossip, author of The Do-Over

“‘I am writing backward to figure out forward,’ Pamela Hart writes in Mothers Over Nangarhar and in so doing Hart has charted her own connection to war through the birth and journey of her son, noting how ‘like the Spartan women, we polish/ our sons in the concrete firmament.’ With Sun-Tzu, Farid Attar, Rimbaud, and the oral testimonies of those with loved ones serving in distant war zones woven into the meditation beside her own experiences, Hart reveals and maps the layered psychological strata of the stateside terrain, war’s home front. This collection is part of a necessary dialogue on war and conflict that stretches from one generation to another now, and yet rarely makes the nightly news or the kitchen table. Thankfully, Hart refuses to add to the silence and instead has given us Mothers Over Nangarhar.”

—Brian Turner