Fertig’s new poems

“Poet, publisher and long-time supporter of the writing community, Salt Spring Island-based Mona Fertig (left) has released her first collection of poems in 14 years.” FULL STORY


Naqvi makes her debut

February 23rd, 2024

Pakistani-Canadian writer Zehra Naqvi’s (at right) debut book of poems and prose, The Knot of My Tongue (McClelland & Stewart $22.50), due out in March 2024, delves into the intersection of language and self-revision following personal rupture. The collection, with varied poetic forms, explores the repercussions of collisions with powerful forces across generations, continents and dominions. Naqvi weaves an intricate narrative involving characters from personal memory, family history and Quranic traditions.

The poignant instances include a father struggling to articulate himself as an immigrant in Canada, a grandmother navigating loss during the 1947 Partition on the Indian continent, and the tales of Hajar from Islamic lore and Philomela from Greek mythology, who finds language even after her brother-in-law cuts off her tongue.

Naqvi’s work seamlessly blends the personal and the communal, memory and myth, theology, and tradition. The poems in this collection serve as a lens, directing attention to our primal ability to communicate, recover and survive—whether in slow, immediate, public or private spheres. Through an exploration of language and loss, this book offers insights into the power inherent in speaking through adversity, presenting a singular vision that is compelling in its emotional resonance.

The following is an excerpted poem from Naqvi’s book:

It was not thirst that drove me to scramble in the desert

from one hill to the other like a mad pendulum

it was not thirst, not the child crying in the burning sand

nor my husband’s disappearing footsteps

it was that wide, empty horizon that promised no salvation

all language lost, the sun uninhibited

it was madness, it was reaching the end of the world and needing

to hear my feet against the ground, my breath ragged

my heart thundering against the silence of the barren earth

I was not looking for water, I wanted evidence of my own life



Zehra Naqvi was born in Karachi, Pakistan and raised in Vancouver, BC. She was a winner of the 2021 RBC Bronwen Wallace Award for Emerging Writers, awarded by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Her poem, “forgetting urdu,” was the winner of Room’s 2016 Poetry Contest, and she has since written and edited for various publications internationally. She holds two Masters degrees from Oxford University, where she studied as a Rhodes Scholar.


3 Responses to “Naqvi makes her debut”

  1. Sana Naeem says:

    Actually @Anne Miles and @Beverly Cramp, I believe there are different versions of the myth of Philomela. In Apollodorus’s version (book 3, chapter 14), Tereus marries Philomela after telling her that Procne is dead, and then cuts off her tongue. He is initially her brother-in-law, but then also becomes her husband.

    “Tereus had by her a son Itys, and having fallen in love with Philomela, he seduced her also saying that Procne was dead, for he concealed her in the country. Afterwards he married Philomela and bedded with her, and cut out her tongue.”

    Source link: https://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0022%3Atext%3DLibrary%3Abook%3D3%3Achapter%3D14

  2. Anne Miles says:

    Correction: It was not Philomela’s husband who cut out her tongue. It was her brother-in-law who had raped her and didn’t want her to talk about it. She then wove the story into a tapestry.

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