Iman Mersal was born in Mit Adlaw, a small village in the northern Nile delta in Egypt. She studied Arabic literature at the University of Masura and moved to Cairo in 1988. In 1998 she obtained her Ph.D. from Cairo University with a dissertation on the role of mystical ideas and notions in modern Arabic poetry. In January 1999 she moved to Edmonton, Canada, where she teaches Arabic at the University of Alberta.
Iman Mersal began to publish her poetry in local poetry magazines while still a high school student. In 1985 she became co-editor of the independent feminist magazine Bint al-Ard (Daughter of the Earth), a job she held until she left Masura in 1988.
In Cairo her poems were published in leading literary magazines, such as Ibda (Creativity) and al-Qahira (Cairo).
Her first book of poetry is a collection of measured verse, entitled Ittisâfât (Characterizations). Despite the book’s enthusiastic reception, she ceased writing poetry for three years.
When she began writing again, her style had changed. She now writes prose poems and avoids the rhetoric and nationalistic themes of traditional poetry. She prefers writing about the events of daily life, the joys and pains, great or small, of life as she experiences it.
Selections from these latter two books have been translated into English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch and Hebrew, and a book-length English collection, These Are Not Oranges, My Love, was published in 2008.
Iman Mersal took part in the Poetry International Festival Rotterdam 2003. This text was written on that occasion.
Hatta atakhalla `an fikrat al-buyut (Until I Give Up The Idea Of Home). Dar Sharqiyat, Cairo, and Dar al-Tanwir, Beirut, 2013
Jughrafiya Badila (Alternative Geography). Dar Sharqiyat, Cairo, 2006
Mamarr mu'tim yasluh lita'allum al-raqs (A Dark Alley Suitable for Learning to Dance). Dar Sharqiyat, Cairo, 2004
al-Mashy Atwal Waqt Mumkin (Walking As Long As Possible). Dar Sharqiyat, Cairo, 1997
Mamarr mu'tim yasluh lita'allum al-raqs (A Dark Alley Suitable for Learning to Dance). Dar Sharqiyat, Cairo, 1995.
Ittisafat (Characterizations). Dar al-Ghad, Cairo, 1990
These Are Not Oranges, My Love: Selected Poems. Sheep Meadow Press, Rhinebeck, NY, 2008
Bira fi Nadi al-Bilyardu (Beer in the Snooker Club), trans. Iman Mersal & Waguih Ghali. Dar el- Shrouk, Cairo, 2011
Mersal’s Blogspot page
Profile on Arab World Books
Faculty profile page at the University of Alberta
YouTube video of Mersal reading “The Clot”