Shortlisted for the 2013 T.S. Eliot Prize
Poetry Book Society Choice
This book-length poem is set at the time of the partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 when thousands of people were killed in civil unrest and millions displaced, with families later split between the two countries. Inspired by family history, Moniza Alvi weaves a deeply personal story of fortitude and courage, as well as of tragic loss, in this powerful work in 20 parts.
At the Time of Partition is Moniza Alvi's first new poetry book since her T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection Europa, published in 2008 at the same time as Split World: Poems 1990-2005.
'Alvi...takes a historical journey as the structure for this narrative poem. The year is 1947 – the year of Partition – and a family is forced to leave their home in Ludhiana for Lahore...Alvi captures the trauma of a nation in this slim, exquisitely mournful story of departure, migration and the uncertain feelings of settling in a new country...' - Arifa Akbar, Independent
'The volume consists of 20 poems which flow into each other to create a single haunting and lyrical narrative, welding the personal and the public. The result is a stunning, skilled and controlled work of immense grandeur...At the Time of Partition is a truly extraordinary collection, a work which succeeds in being spare, compelling and timeless. Furthermore, for the subcontinental reader, it captures a moment of time, a memory, so visceral that it has an extraordinary power. This book should not be missed.' - Muneeza Shamsie, Dawn
'One of the few British poets whose work could currently be described as essential reading, not least as we try to grasp what fractures of cultural difference might have contributed to the 7 July bombings.' - Tim Robertson, Magma.
Moniza Alvi reads six poems
Moniza Alvi reads six poems selected from her Bloodaxe retrospective Split World: Poems 1990-2005 (2008) and her later collection Europa (2008) whose cover picture is a painting by American artist Tabitha Vevers, ‘When We Talk About Rape’ (1992), the inspiration for the poem ‘Mermaid’, which she reads last in this ﬁlm. The title-sequence of her 2005 collection How the Stone Found Its Voice is a series of poems inspired by creation myths. Begun in the wake of the tragedy of 9/11, they are imbued with the dark spirit of that time, with titles including ‘How a Long Way Off Rolled Itself Up’ and ‘How the World Split in Two’, the poem she reads first in the ﬁlm. The poems she reads are: ‘How the World Split in Two’, ‘I Would Like to be a Dot in a Painting by Miró’, ‘I Was Raised in a Glove Compartment’, ‘The Sari’, ‘Presents from My Aunts in Pakistan’ and ‘Mermaid’. Neil Astley filmed her reading and discussing a selection of her poems at her home in Wymondham, Norfolk, in November 2013. This ﬁlm is one of 60 videos included in the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).