Ante body

An incisive poetic sequence that tracks the relationship between migration and complex traumas in this unsparing critique of the unjust conditions that brought us the global pandemic.



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Finalist for the the 2023 L.A. Times Book Award in Poetry!
Selected as one of Artforum’s Best Books of 2022 by Aracelis Girmay!

Additional information

Weight .33 lbs

eBook, Paperback

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.


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
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ISBN: 9781643621425
Paperback, 80 pages, 6 x 9 in
Publication Date: May 31, 2022

In her new collection, Egypt-born poet Marwa Helal plays with language to challenge the way we approach our problems. The poet wants us to be more open and curious, so that we can better understand how we see the world and what connects us to one another… With more openness towards our challenges – whether they are institutional, within a community, or even within a family or relationship – the poet hopes the reader will see this compassion too.

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Marwa Helal is the author of Ante body (Nightboat Books, 2022), Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019) and the chapbook I AM MADE TO LEAVE I AM MADE TO RETURN (No …

More about Marwa Helal