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The Wrong Person to Ask | Bloodaxe Books
marjorie-lotfi-the-wrong-person-to-ask

Marjorie Lotfi

The Wrong Person to Ask

Marjorie Lotfi

Publication Date : 19 Oct 2023

ISBN: 9781780376394

Pages: 65
Size :216 x 138mm
Rights: World

Winner of the James Berry Poetry Prize 2021

Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

Marjorie Lotfi’s award-winning debut collection is a book of two halves, each a meditation on the idea of home, both the places we start and end up in our lives. Spanning a childhood in Iran dislocated by revolution, through years as a young woman in America, to her current home in Scotland, these poems ask what it means to come from somewhere else, what we carry with us when we leave, and how we land in a new place and finally come to rest.

‘Lotfi’s imagistically rich debut collection moves from her childhood in Iran, where her family were uprooted by the revolution, to her youth in America and her current home in Scotland. Lotfi is sensitively attuned to the painful dislocation of self that can come from moving between different nations … Again and again her radiant language turns over the loss of family intimacy and identity caused by political upheaval and violence … Lotfi’s book mourns these losses and separations, while at the same time rendering the possibilities of a capacious, multifaceted sense of belonging: “And what is home if not the choice – / over and over again – to stay?”’ – Rebecca Tamás, The Guardian (Best recent poetry roundup), on The Wrong Person to Ask

The Wrong Person to Ask is a narrative arc of exile and homecoming […] Lotfi’s poetics of compassion challenges us to reconsider the nature of home for the migratory subject, asserting a new concept of belonging that dances between rooting and rootlessness.’ – Orla Polten, New Internationalist

'Marjorie Lofti’s debut collection portrays lives that find themselves, again and again, on the wrong side of history, compelled to preserve their own stories [...] Awarded the James Berry Poetry Prize and a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation, the collection of emigration shimmers with ‘what remains’.' - Lesley Sharpe, The Alchemy Spoon, on The Wrong Person to Ask

'Loss echoes through this collection; loved ones, the voices of the many lost at sea trying to find a safe haven, or national (collective) moments of grief. Home is a sense of absence a well as being present but Lotfi leaves a light ablaze, "like a candle in a cathedral, for the keeping of vigil".' Roy McFarlane, Selector, Poetry Book Society, PBS Winter 2023 Bulletin

‘Against this backdrop of rigid political boundaries, Lotfi’s collection is also in intimate conversation with the natural world, a relationship which offers new ways of understanding emplacement beyond ideas of nationhood.’ – Andrés Ordorica, The Skinny, on The Wrong Person to Ask

‘The poems span her childhood in pre-revolutionary Iran, years spent in the United States and her current life in Scotland. With such a globe-spanning personal history there is, inevitably, much questioning of what constitutes home and identity.’ – The Scotsman, Poem of the Week, on The Wrong Person to Ask

‘Marjorie Lotfi’s first full-length collection, The Wrong Person to Ask is a clear-eyed, sometimes productively reticent debut, and was one of three winners of the James Berry Poetry prize… Lotfi is a quiet and faithful witness. There is no self-indulgent introspection. She insists on seeing what she sees.’ – Carol Rumens, The Guardian (Poem of the Week)

‘Lotfi’s poetry embraces uncertainty, spanning continents and histories, often grounding itself in the wider connections between people and places ... The Wrong Person to Ask challenges us on what we expect from poetry, and poets, in an elegant and unforgettable way.’ – Sean Wai Keung, Gutter

‘This debut title comes to terms with displacement and settlement—the tug of the past, linguistic heritages, absence and presence, unbelonging and alienation as much as hospitality and reciprocity between strangers—using the contours of Lotfi and her family’s journeys to put together a collection that is full of heart even as it tackles tough political themes.’ – Gail Low, DURA (Dundee University Review of the Arts)

'... Lotfi explores turbulence. The poems are sharp, bright and lyrically intense, telling complex tales with clarity [...] In this fine book, a poet who has seen such things up close becomes a powerful speaker for the displaced, the traumatised and the lost.' – David Harmer, Orbis

The Wrong Person to Ask by Marjorie Lotfi is a wondrous treasure – elegant poems of great tenderness and detail, vivid in heart and imagery, mesmerising in power. Whole worlds and people shimmer alive through scenes and stories of exile, departure, arrival, but most importantly, clear witness and remembrance. A deeply honouring book fully built of love.’ – Naomi Shihab Nye

‘In this unforgettable and assured debut collection, Lotfi explores issues of belonging and identity – firstly the lost world of an Iranian childhood through the eyes of a young refugee and ultimately the found worlds of America and Scotland. She brilliantly illustrates the little tragedies of global politics by focussing on the luminous, ordinary rituals of daily life. These are poems built both to haunt and reaffirm us; poems of the living, breathing world and our overarching right to find a home in it.’ – John Glenday.

Marjorie Lotfi reads from The Wrong Person to Ask at Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts

Marjorie read from her new collection at this launch event in November 2023, celebrating the winners of the inaugural James Berry Poetry Prize.

Marjorie Lotfi on Rattlecast #74

Marjorie Lotfi introduces her work and reads from her pamphlet Refuge in this Rattlecast edition livestreamed on 5 January 2021. She was interviewed from her home in Edinburgh by Timothy Green from San Bernadino, California. Her section runs from 3:55 to 1:04:52. 

James Berry Poetry Prize reading

The three winners of the inaugural James Berry Poetry Prize were announced at an NCLA online event on 28 October 2021: Kaycee Hill, Marjorie Lotfi and Yvette Siegert. Hosted by two of the judges, Jacob Sam-La Rose and Theresa Muñoz, the event also featured four other shortlisted poets. The three winners each received year-long mentoring during 2021-22 plus £1000 and publication of their first book-length collections by Bloodaxe in 2023. They read in turn from 30:04.

 

Ireland & EU: Click here to order from Books Upstairs in Dublin

USA: Click here to order from Indiebound or Bookshop.org

  

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