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