Edil Hassan

Somalia / USA


Dreamland was a touring exhibition of captive Somalis who were forced to perform on a man-made set made to resemble an African village. I use the form of the film treatment as a poetic form, which I first encountered in Fatimah Asghar’s poetry, to tell the story of these people without asking them to perform once more. Instead, by looking at the resonance of this event, I look to encounter the kind of scripting and practices of enclosure that made something like this possible, that exist with us today. ​​In this series, the film treatment is a series of visual poems that fragment and collapse. There is the right side of the poem, which explores some kind of performance. On the left side is a list of narrative cues in brackets or parentheses similar to what you might find in a film script. As the series progresses, the right side and left side destabilize, interrupt, and otherwise erode each other. Work that I’ve incorporated into this project are the following: Robert Bresson’s Notes on Cinematography, the script for Hiroshima Mon Amour written by Marguerite Duras.

a film treatment

from Will Revive Dreamland

Edil Hassan

Edil Hassan



Edil Hassan is the winner of the 2023 Cave Canem Starshine and Clay fellowship and author of Dugsi Girl (Akashic Press, 2021). A finalist for the 2022 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, Hassan has received fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook. Hassan’s work has appeared in Poetry magazine, the Poem-a-Day series by the Academy of American Poets, Guernica, and has an essay forthcoming in the Kenyon Review. Hassan is currently finishing a poetry manuscript about film, Black diasporic performance, and the limits of romance.

Christina Sharpe writes: “The architecture of memorial stages encounter. Spectacle is not repair.” Sharpe prompts me to consider how the insistence on linear storytelling can coerce a story to move towards the supposed relief that is forgiveness. Forgiveness then as the only denouement we are willing to tolerate. Denouement: to resolve, to unknot… What if I begin with an end that only draws the knot tighter? What if the knot is what I must grasp firmly to be pulled elsewhere? What if the project documents this elsewhere, the eye/I that looks over, under, right, and left of an event? And lastly, Sharpe prompts me to ask the vital question: if there is no repair, no relief to be had, will I still dare to look, to write the poem?

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