Fairoz is a book-length poetry sequence in which Moniza Alvi explores an imagined teenage girl’s susceptibility to extremism. The book’s fragmented, collaging narrative draws together fairytale elements, glimpses of Fairoz’s thoughts, and pieces of dialogue. A folkloric representation of God and the devil acts as a counterpoint in the whole, touching on questions of morality. Fairoz is a powerful portrayal of human vulnerability.
‘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 a 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 July 7 bombings.’ – Tim Robertson, Magma
'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 […] when I came to write my own poetry about violence I returned to this collection many times to study how it had been done before.' – Kim Moore, The North
‘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
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).