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Sarah Maguire spins vast webs of interconnections from close observation in The Pomegranates of Kandahar, says Robert Potts.
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Pomegranate Boom in Kandahar

Crops like pomegranates and saffron have often been held up as possible alternatives to the lucrative but illegal poppy production that occurs across Afghanistan. Billions of dollars in counter narcotics efforts have failed to reduce the drug trade in Afghanistan. Opium production from poppies in Afghanistan increased to one of the highest levels on record, according to the United Nations, as eradication efforts all but ended amid continued focus on the ongoing insurgency.


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  1. NaNoWriMo winner 2012.
  2. Large Afghan pomegranate crop threatened by lack of markets: farmers.
  3. The Pomegranates of Kandahar by Sarah Maguire - Penguin Books Australia;
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  5. Answers On Innovation Thomson Reuters. Foraminifera - single-celled, shelled creatures, whose fossilised remains are of great value to palaeontologists - are treated exhaustively: Finally, we return to the human scale, with what was "sand, at first glance" now cupped in our hands: These lines tacitly evoke both Eliot's "fear in a handful of dust" and Blake's "world in a grain of sand, and And the whole volume, published in Maguire's 50th year, balances abundance with mortality, plenitude with exhaustion, in ways that are truly moving. So, from a careful act of specific observation, Maguire slowly extracts a vast context of interconnections: The small-scale transformative journeys of seeds and mineral deposits are echoed in the contrails of passenger jets and the grid work of electrified cities, or in the ceaseless flow of human migrations and meetings, or in the living, dying body itself: In addition to their sweeps of scale - from the cellular to the global - the poems are well-travelled.

    A regular visitor to the Middle East, Maguire is the founder of the Poetry Translation Centre at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, responsible for transporting an extraordinary range of poetry from overseas into English.

    ON THE ROAD in Kandahar: Visit to a Pomegranate Orchard

    She is also the only living English-language poet with a book in print in Arabic. Again, although more alert to political contexts than many of her contemporaries, Maguire refuses the opportunity to editorialise: In "Wolves are Massing on the Steppes of Kazakhstan", an exemplary image is drawn from existing reality, with political backgrounds the cold war and the war on terror merely implicit. The collection's epigraph is from Plath: Maguire's work is, in pitch, highly dissimilar to Plath's, more self-controlled, less violently self-exposing.