From A to Z

By Etel Adnan

The Post-Apollo Press
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover art by Etel Adnan
Design by Simone Fattal
Edition, Year
First Edition, 1982
Digital, Out of Print

First published in 1982, From A to Z was the inaugural book from The Post-Apollo Press.

Etel Adnan’s From A to Z is a long poem cataloging everyday life in New York City during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident in Philadelphia in 1979. The first book published by The Post-Apollo Press, From A to Z is a work that expresses how everyday life was under the threat of extinction by nuclear war—a threat that was becoming increasingly real during the seventies. Writing in the face of incoming clouds from Three Mile Island, Adnan offers a subtle yet merciless indictment of nuclear war.


Etel Adnan
Etel Adnan was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1925. She is a celebrated writer, essayist, and playwright, and is the author of more than twenty books in all these disciplines. Her work as a whole is a ... Read More

When I started, I wanted to publish just one chapbook, From A to Z. Then a friend of ours wanted to translate Sitt Marie Rose into English and I said, “When you do, I will publish it.” I had two books, therefore I had to give them life. And you cannot give them life if you do not continue to publish. It’s a responsibility. If I stop, these books will not have a life.

— Simone Fattal, Brooklyn Rail


Praise for From A to Z

This is what happened: I was in New York, in a chic apartment, in front of the United Nations. I had a friend, she gave us her keys. She was in Paris. And by coincidence, at MoMA, I ran into a friend of mine from California. A young man who lives in Canada, who had written about the fabrication of the atomic bomb, he was militant in his own style, against an atomic war. He had come to New York for a few days, and then there was this nuclear accident at Three Mile Island in Philadelphia. They had radiation leaks. He saw me by chance, we took a coffee, we talked a lot about the atomic bomb, and he said: “Come with me to Philadelphia, we will do interviews.” …He said he was going to take photographs and I would do the interviews. But I told him no, I did not want to approach the nuclear cloud. Then I felt guilty. He said, “No problem.” He went there, interviewed all those people, made all these pictures, and made a book of it. His name is Robert del Tredici… Me, I felt guilty, I was afraid of the cloud. The friend in whose apartment I was staying had a grand piano and I had the program of the Japanese Centre on 49th street and 1st avenue, it was very close, I was at 50th street… So, on this grand piano and on the program of the Japanese Centre, I wrote these poems, as if the atomic war had taken place in New York.

— Etel Adnan, RES magazine

The poems in “From A to Z” are brief, lean in their language, modern in their mood…

— The Independent Journal

While [Adnan’s] focus on social and political commitment has never wavered, she has continued to experiment with poetic and artistic form. In 1982 she published From A to Z, a poem about everyday life in New York during the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. Like much of her work, this poem turns upon compressed, often surrealistic images that accumulate in power over the course of the work.
— Lisa Suhair Majaj and Amal Amireh, Etel Adnan: Critical Essays on the Arab-American Writer and Artist

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