Dear Big Gods

BookDear Big Gods

Dear Big Gods

Pavilion Poetry

2019

April 30th, 2019

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‘The second collection by this Forward Prize winning poet examines the aftermath of grief with poignant exactitude... Arshi leads us towards light and hope in poems that are both “arboreal and free”.’
Poetry Book Society
'Mona Arshi's poems plunge us directly into that hypnotic current to which, normally, we can only distantly allude. 'Life' is one of the euphemisms, or 'being alive'.'
Rana Dasgupta
‘Mona Arshi’s poems are purely lyrical in the best sense. Each poem carries its own weight and musical pleasure much like a Bach partita…I am in awe of this work.’
Norbert Hirschhorn, London Grip Poetry Review
‘[Arshi] creates micro-worlds of dream-like intensity, surreal distortion, fantasy and myth… Arshi’s rhythms are varied and finely honed, in a way that only extensive quotation could illustrate.’
Edmund Prestwich, Acumen
‘[A] precisely realised, haunting second collection... Arshi’s poems address the persistence of deep grief, and how it bears down upon those who remain.’
Alice Hiller, Magma Poetry
‘Beautifully direct, and delivered a kind of instantaneousness that I admired a lot. The diction very clean, too, and the forms involving in their twists and turns.'
Andrew Motion
'Strength, delicacy and acuity converge in Mona Arshi's new poems, whether she is observing a garden, blooming or blighted, mourning a brother, speaking in the conflicted voice of a heroine of the Mahabharata. A poet to reread in all her complexity.'
Marilyn Hacker
'Mona Arshi follows her prize-winning first collection Small Hands with another volume of playfulness and poignancy. In Dear Big Gods, the lawyer turned poet wields her delicate word craft so well that she conveys life, death, grief, mystery and remembrance in a handful of beautifully arranged characters on pages to which we will want to return time and again.'
Shami Chakrabarti

‘[On ‘Let the Parts of the Flower Speak’] This is a fine ars poetica: it is when Arshi is at her most delicate, serving her lightest touch that the poems go deepest.’
Martina Evans, The Poetry Review
‘Arshi can shape words into the smallest of forms, from which seedlings and glowing hearts spring. Each poem in Dear Big Gods is distinct, but sometimes, a seed planted in one poem sprouts up in another.’
Nina Mingya Powles, The Scores
'Dear Big Gods explores aftermath: the continued elegy, prayer, memorial; and a deepening of the presence of the lost one. Grief is personal and specific. Arshi successfully and movingly immerses us in her unique experience of loss. It’s a book for both those who have read Small Hands, and for those new to her writing.'
Maria Isakova Bennett, Orbis
For previous work: 'It is a testament to Mona Arshi's talent that, after a decade of not reading any poetry at all, her work had me clambering for old anthologies. Of course, little of what I read afterwards was as elegant, moving, haunting or true. Nothing less than Britain's most promising writer.'
Sathnam Sanghera, The Times

Following on from her Forward prize-winning collection, Small Hands, Mona Arshi's new book continues in its lyrical and exact exploration of the aftershocks of grief. These extraordinary poems, which see Arshi continuing with her experiments with form, relocate experiences in both past and future feeling, in both the intimacies of ordinariness and the collective experience of myth. Moving and discomfiting, these poems tune, in their acute emotional awareness of individual pain, to the dangers and unsettling violences of the contemporary world. Nevertheless, at the centre of this book is an overarching commitment to hope, in whatever form it takes, to the earth's tiny creatures, and its 'churning, broken song'.

Author Information

Mona Arshi trained as a lawyer and worked for Liberty, the UK human rights organisation, for several years. She began writing poetry in 2008 and received a Masters in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She has been a prize-winner in the Magma, Troubadour and Manchester Creative Writing Competitions. Mona’s debut collection ‘Small Hands’ won the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection at the Forward Prizes for Poetry in 2015.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover1
Contents7
Little Prayer11
Narcissi12
Everywhere14
The Lilies15
Five-Year Update16
The Humble Insistence18
Tanka: I Loved You Best in Spring19
Something20
The Wasps21
The Switch22
Fish23
Mirrors24
Like the first morning31
A Pear from the Afterlife32
'I was the slightest in the house'33
Autumn Epistles34
'In Mexico the women are marrying trees.'36
Ghazal: Darkness37
Now I know the Truth about Octopuses (and the lies we tell our children)38
The Mango40
Delivery Room41
Post Surgery, ICU, 3 a.m.42
Sabah is Missing43
Grief Holds a Cup of Tea44
The Village46
Sibling Discount47
The Department of Atrocities48
The Sisters49
Let the Parts of the Flower Speak50
Draupadi’s Hair52
Draupadi’s Terror54
Draupadi’s Prophecy55
Gloaming59
Odysseus60
My Third Eye61
Pomegranate62
Poem63
Because you left no note64
When Your Brother Steps into your Piccadilly, West Bound Train Carriage65
Dear Big Gods66
Acknowledgments68