PART OF THE INAUGURAL LIST UNDER NEW M&S POETRY EDITOR DIONNE BRAND
AUDIENCE: For general poetry readers, in particular fans of poets like Solmaz Sharif, Saskia Hamilton, Phoebe Wang, and Jacob McArthur Mooney.
CONSISTENT RECOGNITION: 2017 National Magazine Awards finalist for three poems, 2017 League of Canadian Poets’ inaugural National Broadsheet Contest winner, 2016 Arc Poetry Magazine Poem of the Year grand-prize winner, 2015 Contemporary Verse 2 Young Buck Prize grand-prize winner, 2010 Contemporary Verse 2 Thirty-fifth Anniversary Contest grand-prize winner.
"Laid out against the horizontal landscape of the page, from the very beginning these poems demand from the reader a reorientation, and set out a goal to teach us how to read differently--not only the poems but also the world. What is beautiful and successful here is the way Doyali Islam takes small moments and gives to them an incredible, sometimes aching, heft: the ephemera left in a pocket become a map leading us back to love; an ant observed on the floor finds its way onto a white page--a black mark effectively writing its own poem, ‘struggling to interpret its situation’. In each of these poems, Islam makes that struggle for interpretation both wonderful and worthwhile.” --Griffin Poetry Prize Jury Citation
"Formally innovative and emotionally resonant, these striking poems use their bifurcated structure to map a vast and varied terrain. Though each poem is split from itself, the 'contrast in [them] swells to friction' through Islam’s ambitious use of structure and lyric. Deftly stitching together a range of subjects, from diasporic experience to the experience of chronic illness, these poems are a master class in contrast and overlap; a study not just of how the body lives in the world, but how the world lives in the body." -- Trillium Book Award for Poetry Jury Citation
"In her sophomore collection heft, Doyali Islam unfolds multitude possibilities from poetic form. Through her split sonnets, double sonnets and parallel poems, Islam creates a delicate tension between histories and geographies. The author's attention to language – sonorous, limpid, and precise--is mirrored by her care for the surprising moments both outside her and within. By turns personal and political, her poems feel as though they could be folded over onto themselves, their sometimes divergent experiences finding touching proximity. Through her poems, our lives gather intimacy across a world’s vastness." --Pat Lowther Memorial Award Jury Citation
“heft deftly encompasses both personal and political through [Doyali Islam’s] innovative use of a bifurcated poem. Is it two wings built around a white silence? The scales of the balance of justice? The border between self and other? We enter each poem as if into an unknown world, already populated, but ready to welcome us. Come and sit inside these wings.” --Philip Metres
"Islam’s distilled, intricate poems are packed with striking images and associative leaps; she writes of a cat 'bent after new thought'—a phrase that fits her poetic method, which is formally inventive . . . Having a burden is also a frequent motif; the grain of rice an ant carries is 'something to heft, heft for nourishment; / something to pain him and free him, at once'—in other words, a metaphor for life itself." --Toronto Star
"heft is permeated with tenderness—the poems deepen our humanity. How does language achieve something as physical as empathy? That language can achieve this is a kind of mystery, and beauty is inextricable from this mystery." —Anne Michaels, CV2
"heft shifts and moves; it leaps beautifully and leaves a 'space of love' wherever it lands.” -- Alycia Pirmohamed, The Adroit Journal
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