As the Syrian war has raged over the past several years, the world has watched in horror. And that horror is particularly concentrated on the city of Aleppo, which has been subject to almost incomparable devastation and deprivation.
Aleppo is Alice Attie’s home city, where her grandparents were born, and with the poems in Under the Aleppo Sun, she takes us there—to the months before Assad unleashed his attack in 2011. Through her eyes we see a city that is largely no more: she weaves through the old souk, climbs the steep stones of the ancient citadel, stands in the center of the Umayyad mosque, runs her hand along the walls of the forbidden synagogue. She visits a small shop run by a young man. Over the course of days, perhaps weeks, she returns to see him; as we read the poems, we know what lies ahead for him and his shop, and we can’t turn away from what will be lost.
Alice Attie is a poet and a visual artist living in New York City. Her first book of poems, These Figures Lining the Hills, was published by Seagull Books.
Kim Benzel is Curator in Charge of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Since starting at the Museum in 1990, she has worked on numerous exhibitions—such as The Royal City of Susa, Assyrian Origins, Art and Empire, Beyond Babylon, Hidden Treasures from Afghanistan, and Assyria to Iberia at the Dawn of the Classical Age. She has co-edited and contributed to many exhibition catalogues, published several articles on the jewelry arts of the ancient Near East, and co-authored a Met resource guide on the ancient Near East for K–12 teachers. Before embarking on a career in art history, Kim studied goldsmithing at the Kulicke-Stark Academy in New York, where she specialized in techniques and methods used in antiquity and acquired the technological expertise that now informs so much of her art historical research. She has extensive teaching and lecture experience, and has participated in several archaeological excavations, primarily at sites in Syria, such as Til Barsip/Tell Ahmar and Umm el-Marra. Kim holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University, New York.