Moniza Alvi's new book is unified by birds. Her creations 'Motherbird' and 'Fatherbird' are inspired by her parents, and by the loss of her father and by his emigration from Pakistan. Among the many bird-related poems are versions of the French poets Jules Supervielle and Saint-John Perse, and poems 'after' the paintings of the Spanish-Mexican surrealist artist Remedios Varo.
Blackbird, Bye Bye is Moniza Alvi's first new poetry book since her T.S. Eliot Prize-shortlisted collection At the Time of Partition, published in 2013.
‘As in her previous collections, Alvi probes the subject of dual-heritage, and the challenges and successes of living in between two countries. Concerned with borders of all kinds, Blackbird, Bye Bye also imaginatively treads the line between life and death… Blackbird, Bye Bye is a tender exploration of the world and human nature, which recognises “the carnage, the onslaught/ of the centuries” while managing to find solace in the redemptive powers of art, language and the natural world.’ – Sarala Estruch, The Telegraph
‘Through the metaphor of birds, Moniza Alvi writes with a sing-song clarity about her father’s emigration and death in Blackbird, Bye Bye… With a light tone, Alvi probes darker truths of what it means to leave one’s country and family behind… There’s also a timeless vivacity to the book, present in the subtle, low-key deployment of internal and slant rhymes.’ – Carla-Rosa Manfredino, Times Literary Supplement
‘Her first poetry collection since the T S Eliot Prize-shortlisted At the Time of Partition sees the Wymondham-based writer on superb form. With a unifying theme of birds, the bulk of the book is taken up with a poignant series of poems about her parents. Alvi explores the contrast between the frailty of old age and the vigour of lives in their prime…’ – Trevor Heaton, Eastern Daily Press
'Alvi’s spare, tight, skilled poems merge suggestion and ambiguity, the real and the surreal, as well as symbolic imagery of the blackbird as a spirit — a link between heaven and earth...
At the heart of the collection is a moving 16-part sequence, ‘Afterlife of Fatherbird’, which commemorates the memory of Alvi’s father.' - Muneeza Shamsie, Dawn
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).