The Baboons of Hada introduces thirty years of Eric Ormsby's precise and generous poetry. Opening with an exuberant bestiary of spiders and starfish, penguins, snakes and contemplative baboons, the collection moves on to explore a world of intricate wonders and memories: the grandeur of ses, the mayonnaise tornado whipped up by a kitchen whisk, the gossip gravediggers whisper to the dead. An American childhood and kinships are evoked with loving particularity, alongside a flamboyant caliph, Lazarus and his disenchanted wife, and the great medieval Arab poet al-Mutanabbi writing in exile lines that reverberate across 'all the empty places' of the world.
Eric Ormsby, born in Atlanta in 1941, is a poet and scholar. He was a longtime resident of Montreal, where he was the Director of University Libraries and subsequently a professor of Islamic thought at the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University. Presently, he lives and writes in London, where he is Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Ismaili Studies. He has written six poetry collections, including Bavarian Shrine and Other Poems (1990) (which won a Quebec prize for the best poetry of that year) For a Modest God: New & Selected Poems (1997), and Time's Covenant (2006). His poems have been published in various journals and magazines such as The New Yorker and The Paris Review and anthologized in The Norton Anthology of Poetry. He has also written widely on Islamic ideas, including Theodicy in Islamic Thought (Princeton University Press, 1984).