Moniza Alvi on Radio 3's The Verb

Moniza Alvi on Radio 3's The Verb


Fairoz is a brilliant example of narrative poetry, and poetry with an important story to tell. Alvi handles the difficult subject matter with great formal elegance. This is not a Disney fairytale; it is dark and unflinching but also full of hope.’ – Ellora Sutton, Mslexia


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 wry counterpoint, touching on questions of morality. Fairoz is a powerful portrayal of human vulnerability.  It was published by Bloodaxe on 26 March 2022, and launched online that evening.

Moniza Alvi was born in Pakistan and grew up in Hertfordshire. After working for many years as a secondary school teacher in London, she is now a freelance writer and tutor, and lives in Norfolk. All her poetry is published by Bloodaxe. Her most recent titles are Fairoz (2022), Blackbird, Bye Bye (2018); her book-length poem, At the Time of Partition (2013); Homesick for the Earth, her versions of the French poet Jules Supervielle (2011); Europa (2008); and Split World: Poems 1990-2005 (2008).


The Verb: Invisibility, BBC Radio 3, Friday 15 April 2022, 10pm

Moniza Alvi was a guest on Radio 3’s The Verb on 15 April.  She read and introduced her poem ‘A Task’ from her book-length poetry sequence Fairoz, and spoke in detail about what led her to write about ‘the invisible threat of radicalisation’.  She pre-recorded her interview down the line from Newcastle ahead of her in-person launch at the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts that evening.  

As part of the The Verb’s ‘Something Old, Something New’ feature to mark 100 years of poetry from the BBC, archive recordings of UA Fanthorpe reading her poems ‘Grandfather’s Watch’ and ‘Half-past Two’ were played. Her early poems are published by Bloodaxe in Beginner’s Luck. In his introduction, Ian McMillan described UA Fanthorpe as ‘a poet whose lightness of touch disguised the profound and serious humanity that reverberated through her poetry.’  Moniza Alvi discussed UA Fanthorpe’s work, and then read her new poem ‘The Voice’, which was commissioned by The Verb especially for this old and new feature.

Listen here. UA Fanthorpe poems from 25.25. Moniza discusses UA Fanthorpe from 29:50, and reads her new poem at 30.07. She talks about Fairoz from 36.46. 

A separate page with the text of Moniza's new poem 'The Voice' and audio of her reading it, is here.


Expert Reviews, Best poetry books you can buy in 2022, 3 October 2022

Two Bloodaxe titles were chosen by Simon Williams for his best poetry books of 2022 feature.  They were Moniza Alvi’s book-length poetry sequence Fairoz and Clare Shaw’s fourth collection Towards a General Theory of Love.

Read the full feature here.




Fairoz was reviewed in depth online in Long Poem Magazine.  Read in full here.
‘In its depiction of Fairoz’s inner voice and life the book reveals the conflict between haven and exile, heaven and purgatory. It’s a study in displacement, the process of exclusion and the desire to belong, to be beloved and accepted... This extended long poem form permits multiple perspectives, resisting answers to the questions posed by its protagonists and instead offering its readers twisting ‘dark pathways’ and more questions.’ - Lucy Sheerman, Long Poem Magazine

Fairoz is a brilliant example of narrative poetry, and poetry with an important story to tell. Alvi handles the difficult subject matter with great formal elegance. This is not a Disney fairytale; it is dark and unflinching but also full of hope.’ – Ellora Sutton, Mslexia

In print in the Summer 2022 issue of Mslexia, and online by subscription here.


Fairoz was well reviewed in the autumn 2022 issue of the online poetry journal The High Window.  Read in full here. (click on author name to be taken direct to the review)

‘The dramatisation of the human story is brilliant, and the fact it makes such harsh and disturbing reading is a mark of Moniza Alvi’s genius in bringing such a harrowing story to life. The poems, stark and carefully crafted, show how global politics filter down into the minutiae of all our lives, in extreme form here in a tale about religious extremism, but present everywhere… All in all, I found Fairoz a disturbingly unforgettable collection, so powerfully done as the girl moves from one story of estrangement into another.’ – Rosie Jackson, The High Window

'The poems unfold like scenes in a play, and Alvi seems to borrow the idea of a Greek chorus to create the cultural background through lines spoiken by unnamed people... Fairoz is a fictional character, yet the questions raised are a reminder of how easily the vulnerable are preyed upon...a testimony to how powerfully poetry can allow the marginalised to have voices.' - Mary Mulholland, The Alchemy Spoon


‘Moniza Alvi’s new collection Fairoz is a book length piece which focuses entirely on one young woman’s encounters with those attempting to radicalise her through online contact… This brave, powerful and important book completely gripped me and I read it in twenty four hours… A tour-de-force.’ – Sue Dymoke, Sue Dymoke Poetry

Read the review in full on Sue Dymoke's blog here.



Moniza Alvi reads from Fairoz at the Bloodaxe online launch on 26 March 2022

Moniza Alvi read poems from Fairoz at this Bloodaxe live-streamed launch event shared with Amali Gunasekera and Jessica Traynor, whose three collections were all published in March 2022. At the end of the readings Bloodaxe editor Neil Astley hosted a fascinating discussion between the three poets about their new books.  Moniza reads first in each set.

[15 April 2022]

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