Shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize
Poetry Book Society Choice
Many of the poems in Moniza Alvi's Europa relate to ancient and modern traumas, including enforced exile, alienation, rape and 'honour killing'. Its centre-piece is a re-imagining of the story of the rape of Europa by Jupiter as a bull. The collection also includes a series of poems exploring post-traumatic stress disorder, and further versions of the French poet Jules Supervielle with their Second World War background. Europa is a dark, unified book whose poems move towards regeneration. It was published at the same time as Moniza Alvi's Split World: Poems 1990-2005.
'Europa made the most difference to me as a writer. It showed me one way of writing about trauma and violence, how to circle around a central concern and explore it from different angles.' – Kim Moore, for The North magazine's feature Top 30 Outstanding Books from the Last 30 Years
‘Moniza’s work has a relaxed naturalness, even when describing trauma. Her poems always feel as if they come ‘as naturally as leaves to the tree’. Her imagination is mythic and each collection often builds an entire world with the most alive, fluid, spare but colourful words. I must have read ‘Mermaid’ a hundred times by now, as I often teach it, and each time I glean new meanings and thoughts; its power to shock and sadden never wanes.’ – Pascale Petit, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, on Moniza Alvi’s Europa
'Alvi is a bold surrealist, whose poems open the world up in new, imaginatively absurd ways.' – Ruth Padel, Independent
'Much of Alvi's work engages with a surreal or fantastical world of fractured and partially recovered identity, working through sequences in her most recent poetry.' - Deryn Rees-Jones, Modern Women Poets
'Moniza Alvi's world is a place of wild energy... Alvi's voice has achieved a relaxed naturalness, a fluidity which allows her to present these delicious, extraordinary poems as though it were easy.' – Kathleen Jamie & Hugo Williams, PBS Bulletin
'She is a skilled storyteller, recounting the extraordinary in the voice of the everyday, so that we accept the miraculous as something we need...the overriding impression is of a deft, restrained language carrying ideas with metaphysical wit and seriousness.' - Leonie Rushforth, London Magazine
'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).