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ISBN: 978 1 857541 14 4
Categories: 20th Century, Black and Asian, Women
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: January 1995
140 x 216 x 6 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
While journeys made, or broached,
are left hanging in their harbours,
left hanging in farewells,
journeys daydreams sail on
surprise themselves with atolls:
an atoll in an Indian ocean
where birds that have lost their power of flight
because they have no enemies
make scissor-runs across sand and tide --
poignant, being flightless,
more poignant, being safe.
In Mirrorwork, her second collection, Mimi Khalvati takes the Islamic art of mirror-mosaic – found in palaces, barber shops, kebab houses – as metaphor. The shorter poems refract one another, the three long sequences act as a mirror triptych, their themes – of art, nature, domestic life and memory, east and west – drawing the other poems together.
In a mirror-mosaic you search for your reflection but can't find it whole, only flickering, variegated, fragmented, as on television when a pattern is played across a face to preserve anonymity, while the voice discloses what the picture conceals. In Mirrorwork Khalvati at once establishes a voice and questions its integrity. It is a book about becoming, as the poet's children leave home and she must find a changed self and purpose, a new space.
Praise for Mimi Khalvati This brilliant poet's crab-apple tree imparts the same kind of gorgeous and devastating self-knowledge granted Eve by the biblical Tree of Life.
Rafel Campo, Boston Review
This open and generous readiness to engage with all realities and see their worth gives Khalvati her power... graceful accomplishment is always in the service of a fundamental seriousness.
Bernard O'Donoghue, Poetry London
A lovely book, so accomplished, various, comprehensive and abundant. The poems are quick and touching, joyfully and sorrowfully open to the phenomena of the real world, they say what it feels like being human, the good and the ill of it, with passion, tact and lightness.
David Constantine Khalvati's writing draws on diverse worlds and poetic traditions, and enriches the dominant culture of British poetry...Intricate, sensuous and vulnerable...Mimi Khalvati's work will endure.
Moniza Alvi, Poetry Wales
Mimi Khalvati is one of the most poignant and graceful poets writing in England currently. The Meanest Flower speaks often of grief and loss but also of great pleasure in the world, in gardens, in loves, in other people. Under the lyricism there is an iron control that achieves its grace through subtlety. There reader is aware one is in the presence of a mind, a heart and an ear that has been schooled in depth, that finds it as naturally as do the flowers of the title.
Khalvati writes exquisitely nuanced lyrics of love and loss, which draw on childhood, motherhood and the natural world. These [The Meanest Flower] are tender poems in the English Romantic tradition.
No. 3 in 'The Ten Best New poetry collections' - Independent, 2007
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