Anita Pati’s debut collection, Hiding to Nothing, explores the destabilising effects of violence, particularly empire’s aftermath, on a psyche. Threaded with internal dialogue, this multi-layered work witnesses how unbelonging can unsettle perceptions of the brown female body within an unwelcoming, even hostile, environment.
From ‘exotic’ dodos punished for not being doves to Greenface, on whom blonde girls birth natterjack toads, marginal presences tell their stories. Hiding to Nothing suggests that complex and damaging legacies in all their forms can create shockwaves that reverberate over a lifetime, stopping lives from reaching their full potential. And the trauma experienced through centuries of colonial history continues to be embodied and enacted.
These perceptions of body-image and self-worth are picked up in the central documentary sequence, Bloodfruit, which is based on interviews with women. Bloodfruit gives voice to the less heard narratives of infertility and difficult trajectories towards becoming, or not becoming, a ‘mother’. Here, the often-fraught notions of womanhood and motherhood are also shown to feed into ideas on who is able to mother.
Pati uses an original, lyrical approach towards the ambiguities and ambivalences that cloud our decisions. Ultimately, ambient aggressions towards our own and other bodies can only be made good by breaking the cycle. Pati unravels compacted pain but those looking for easy answers or redemption will find no compromise here.
'Vivid, polyvocal and excoriating, Pati’s poems find an exquisite musicality and a deep sorcery of imagery and momentum. Hiding to Nothing is a humane, fierce, original and uncompromising debut from a major new voice in British poetry.'
'Anita Pati’s work will resonate with anyone who has personal experience of a difficult journey to parenthood. She manages to encapsulate the pain of infertility, loss and prematurity. Pati lays bare the intensity of the emotions involved, the damage to self-esteem and the complexities of the relationship with our bodies. Her poetry is both beautiful and haunting.'
Kate Brian, Fertility Network UK and Journalist and Author
'Despite the gravity of its subject matter, Hiding to Nothing is a collection of wit, playfulness and a wonderfully slippery syntax which says one thing and suggests much else. With its linguistic density and intertextuality, play and soundplay, I have read nothing like it - a book of beautifully controlled defiance.'
'If the body of a woman could speak, this is the poetry it would write. Raw and filled to the brim with grief, anger, beauty, rage, terror, longing, love and blood. Anita Pati’s body of poetry is poetry of the body, and it stinks of the truth.'
Jody Day, Psychotherapist, author & founder of Gateway Women
'Hiding to Nothing is a hard-hitting, lyrical exploration of attitudes towards women, particularly black women, and how those attitudes shape lives. [...] Anita Pati writes with uncompromising sensitivity and an forensic eye.'
Emma Lee, London Grip
'Pati’s excoriating debut collection is one of painful yet necessary release: “my chest frays open, / bivalved wires spitting, bloodish”. These vivid poems explore suppression and silencing – the violence of empire, the toxicity of whiteness, the pressures placed upon the female body. [...] These confronting, polyvocal dialogues ring with the energy of long-held suffering, finally released into a shared language. [...] This visceral, affecting and politically astute collection announces a courageous new voice in British poetry.'Rebecca Tamás, The Guardian
'Anita Pati's Hiding to Nothing [from] Pavilion Poetry is unforgettable, giving voice to silences of many kinds, esp[ecially] those persisting around infertility. Her poems are compelling, fierce, playful & her approach always unexpected.' - Fiona Larkin
‘Hiding to Nothing is an inventive, highly original collection, fizzing with barely concealed anger at the violence of Empire, of racism, of patriarchy & of how brown women's bodies are treated. This excerpt, from the 'Bloodfruit' sequence, draws on interviews with many women:
'I'm unprecious cargo. Not a real woman. My body's betrayed me.
Q. Are we only worthy when we've procreated?'
Hiding to Nothing is bold & rather brilliant.’
Katrina Naomi, Katrina’s Poetry News
'Anita Pati’s debut collection utilises form and language to
devastating effect. The central section is an elegy for all the
“neverborns” and the women who were mothers all too briefly.
In other poems, uncompromising in scope and content,
women’s bodies take centre stage: are shown as being overly
scrutinised, found lacking, raped or put under the knife.
Channelling a myriad of voices, Pati speaks commandingly
for those who, though suffering, continue to see “only stars”.'
Shash Trevett, Poetry Book Society Bulletin