Paying tribute to her mother, Mona Helmy resurrects Nawal El Saadawi poetically. In these poems Helmy orchestrates two voices aptly. The first voice recalls the mother’s feminist teachings, her tender presence, the protection she provided, and the strength and confidence she armed her daughter with. The tone in these poems is nostalgic, elegiac, loving, and passionate. Through the tone and the hissing sound of the consonant s in El Saadawi, Helmy clearly declares her position toward her mother: reverential respect mixed with love and admiration. Helmy’s subversive strategy is to humanize Nawal El Saadawi, whom institutional powers had demonized. Challenging the discourse and practices of pathetic powers, Helmy salvages El Saadawi’s legacy and her distinguished attributes as a nonconforming mother come forth to the foreground of the poem.

In parallel to that, the second voice of the poet emerges clearly when she presents herself as a nonconforming woman in a...

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