“Whether drawing on myth or fairytale, or writing directly from women’s experience, these are powerful poems by a new writer with a remarkable gift for storytelling.”
– Carol Ann Duffy, Britain’s Poet Laureate
There Was and How Much There Was is a chapbook published by smith|doorstop as a 2016 Laureate's Choice, selected by Britain's poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy. It was included on the Poetry School's Books of the 2016 list, praised for its "fearless reflections on female body politics." It was also selected among Best of the New Year 2017 on The Washington Independent Review of Books.
read the title poem on At Length.
There Was and How Much There Was was adapted to the stage by Lebanese director Sahar Assaf, as part of the KIP Conference on Gender and Sexuality at the American University of Beirut on April 1st, 2017.
“What we see here is a breakthrough book, with unexpected events, and reactions that inform and inspire life as a modern Arab woman." - The Washington Independent Review of Books.
"Hashem Beck’s rich, complicated collection of poems [...] sings while it explores the community of women around her and their challenges and joys." – HeArt
“This poet is a rapt listener to her world… These are poems unafraid of wider, final reflections… This is a powerful, appealing pamphlet, rich with new stories.” – PN Review
“Zeina Hashem Beck’s small collection of sixteen poems, a pleasure to enjoy in one sitting but layered enough to return to again and again, is like turning the pages of a family album in which none of the photographs have been hidden away. The book draws on women’s experience and uses myth and fairytale subtly and with assurance.” – Antiphon
“Through this sensitively-recorded talk we see that these women are not defined by living in a society tilted against them, that they maintain the same concerns as women everywhere.” - Oxford Poetry