Books for changing the world
Nazar Boy

From one of the most imaginative and radical voices in contemporary poetry, a debut collection of fierce tenderness, political acuity, and powerful lyricism.

Tarik Dobbs’s work explores surveillance, queerness, disability, race, and working-class identity in post-9/11 America. As an Arab American writer, Dobbs is achingly familiar with the power dynamics, violence, and capitalistic undercurrents woven through the language of the colonizer. They challenge this power in visual, free-verse, and formally intense poems—both traditional and innovative—that stretch the elasticity of borders, verbs, images, redactions, and more. Ranging from sonnets to concrete poems, Nazar Boy is visually stimulating, thought-provoking, emotionally wrenching, and exquisitely crafted.

Dobbs’ poems blur and collapse narrative distances within and between places, from the Levant to Michigan, and break down dichotomies portrayed in Western media: between Arabness and whiteness, intellectualism and the working poor, Muslimness and queerness, disability and desire. By turns irreverent and serenely gentle, Dobbs calls us to speak, to dream, and to imagine beyond those distances so that we might speak, dream, and imagine better versions of ourselves, our relationships to each other, and our places in the world.

  • In their compelling debut Nazar Boy, Tarik Dobbs writes across and against the borders of race, class, ability, and sexual orientation—the checkpoints wherein the body is scrutinized, surveilled, and othered in ways meant to define and contain. This book demands a reckoning—both personal and national. In the precise mirror of these poems we find both the darkness and its necessary illumination, a way to confront ourselves.
    Natasha Trethewey, author of The House of Being

    Nazar Boy (with its visual, lyrical, political, and spiritual ferocity) is one of the best debuts in recent memory. Do I mean spiritual? Yes, I feel the shape of my own soul when I read Tarik Dobbs’s work. From war and within war, with love and hammer, long hope and deep memory, Dobbs crafts a weapon of a book that will cut you deep and good. May this work ignite us towards freedom.
    Danez Smith, author of Homie

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