The Power of the Poet: Moniza Alvi

Moniza Alvi has published five anthologies: two with Oxford University Press and three with Bloodaxe books. Her poetry reading, at the Literary Festival in my hometown, was emotionally stirring; each poem with significance and hidden implications.

The Power of the Poet: Moniza Alvi

"My father first came to England in 1946." Moniza explains to the audience. Before each poem, she gives a backstory or a description of the outline; an

ambiguous plot. She talks of Indian cooking: ghee, special rice puddings for parties and celebrations. Hot, steaming pots of traditional food, wafting back memories and nostalgic feelings of her childhood.

Moniza also mentions how she noticed, even as a little girl, how there were less Indian restaurants in Britain. She didn't see many mixed ethnicities within the British society she lived in, either. This all contributed to a sentimental and wistful performance. I noticed one thing. People pay more attention to someone truly speaking from the heart, and from experience.

I could personally relate to her discussion on cultural appropriation and community opinions when someone in your family has brain damage. I think that her determination to share aspects of lives that we don't always want to talk about holds a lot of importance. The power of the poet when speaking words many avoid definitely has a long-lasting effect. For Moniza's work, she's not afraid to explore topics of all kinds. I could first-hand see the positive effects

her voice was having, on the audience in the room alone.

An elderly lady shakes her head slightly, nodding as if in agreement when Moniza talks about race and discrimination. A staff member sitting next to me tenses her shoulders when a poem reaches a climax, or a stop.

During the time period of one poem, Moniza states how people did not always want to talk about partition and its effect. Another poem, very abstract and unusual, the character searches memory, objectively picturing it as something- or someone – running in a field.

On one final note: a mermaid, about human life: this person knew nothing.

""Human love." cried the sea. The sea in her head."

How do poets do this? How do they weave so much thought into words? This shall remain a mystery to me.

Love and light,




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