It’s a first for me, having a poem published in Poetry Birmingham’s visually elegant and thought-provoking pages. With Naush Sabah and Suna Afshan as editors, it’s perhaps unsurprising that the Asian perspective is vibrantly present. I, for one, found myself both challenged and fascinated by some of the essays written here from a post-colonial perspective.
Naush Sabah’s editorial in issue seven uses her mother’s recipe for karriy/kadhi/curry as an illustration of how immigrants must navigate the tastes of the dominant order, to survive culturally. “Recipes too are crafted things like poems . . . preserved as an element of a culture’s will to survive. A poem might be thought of as a last gasp against oblivion, the printed page a monument to life. . . . It’s why this issue’s cover bears an image of the HMS Hampton Court: the painting preserves the violence of the English at sea. It’s a violence not everyone survives. . . . We can’t read or write in their place but we can read and write in our own with them in mind.”
Poets in this issue include Ali Al-Jamri, Claire Booker, Gerry Cambridge, Kitty Donnelly, Mave Fellowes, Roz Goddard, Nicola Healey, Lucy Holmes, Anhaf Jazeem, Frederico Italiano, Kabir, Phil Kirby, Roy McFarlane, Anita Pati, Stav Poleg, Samuel Tongue and Rory Waterman.
Issue seven offers new perspectives on issues that are often side-lined in mainstream journals. Translating poetry into English has become something of a trend among Anglophone poets. It used to be that translators were virtually bilingual in the language of origin, but many poets now see translation as the act of creating versions from a literal translation prepared by an intermediary. Mona Kareem’s essay ‘Western Poets Kidnap your Poems and Call them Translations’ is an eye-watering shot across the bows to this approach: “I’m not arguing that a poetry translation might win you the Nobel or welcome you into the canon, but I am saying textual violence disturbs my peace and pleasure alike.”
Alongside this intriguingly shot photo ‘Adlestrop Storm’ by Nuzhat Bukhari, you can enjoy a wonderful introduction, by Amit Majmudar, of Kabir’s poetry – the 15th century, illiterate genius who composed poems about his day job (weaving) which resonate with the sublime. Also an essay on translating Sufi poetry, prose responses to Louis MacNeice and Vahni Capildeo, an examination of the jazz poetry of Wanda Coleman, and PBLJ‘s regular column on developing poetic craft, this time with Karen Solie and Daljit Nagra. There’s also a wide range of reviews.
Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal is published twice a year. To buy a copy of issue seven, subscribe to the journal, or submit your work, please visit: http://www.poetrybirmingham.com