Maha Ahmed has reviewed A Theory of Birds: Poems by Zaina Alsous in The Adroit Journal. A Theory of Birds, Ahmed writes, is “a poetry collection that insists, in a world where the relentless Palestinian question of return exists alongside the marketed penetration of Mia Khalifa, there are few places as redemptive as the imagination. … Confrontational and unafraid, the collection gives appropriate weight to the violence of colonialism, ethnic erasure, and displacement. But the violence is not entirely profuse, as her speakers offer retribution in the form of birds, radical theory, and surreal description. If the personal is political, these poems pull the thread tighter (or looser) by expanding our definition of political to include a terrain of endless possibilities where we may encounter worlds of redemption.”

A Theory of Birds is the winner of the 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, awarded each year by the University of Arkansas Press and the Radius of Arab American Writers to a first or second collection of poetry from a writer of Arab heritage. The series is edited by Hayan Charara and Fady Joudah and supported by the King Fahd Center for Middle East Studies at the University of Arkansas.