Hanan Issa

Hanan Issa is a Welsh-Iraqi writer whose writing explores narrative history and the ways in which we connect. She has collaborated with platforms including BBC Wales, Film4, Bush Theatre, National Museum Wales, Parthian and Literature Wales. She was a 2018-2019 Hay Festival Writer at Work and is the co-founder of the 'Where I'm Coming From' open mic. Her debut poetry pamphlet My Body Can House Two Hearts is published by Burning Eye Books.

Photo:Abi Bansal


Border Crossings »

Reading: Hanan Issa, Jan Baeke

Fri 6 March | 14:15 - 15:15 | £4.50/£3.50 | Parliament Hall, South Street


My Body Can House Two Hearts

We say qalbayn for ‘two hearts’.
Pumping parts through crimson sea.
Tied to lands history split,
I’ve tried to fit uneasily.

A blazing of blood combined.
Obsess, rewind, frustrate me,
say between two stools I fall,
those boundary walls formed early.

But my body is enough,
gently tough, stretched agony.
Growing a love embracing,
rejecting patriarchy,

no need to shame my peers
or let my fears rat-race me.
Two hearts my body can hold,
so I mould my legacy:

to make space enough for all,
standing tall, I rise, breathe free.
Two hearts – a strength none can take;
love’s a lake and the world is thirsty.

Hanan Issa

From My Body Can House Two Hearts (Burning Eye Books, 2019)