‘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'.'
‘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.'
'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.'
‘[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'.
'Flying and crawling insects appear in Mona Arshi’s second collection, Dear Big Gods, sometimes landing gently on one line, sometimes swarming across whole pages. The natural world infuses this collection, with mentions of birds, insects, flowers, trees, rivers, forests, ponds, earth, and seasonal words, which are threaded throughout. There is a playfully self-conscious scent [...] in several poems, when we are not sure who is speaking, the flowers themselves or the person observing them. [...] These poems brim with new life and growth; with hope. [...] Arshi’s poems spill over with intimate observations and exquisite language that have become her trademark.' Josephine Corcoran, Under the Radar and Nine Arches Press
'Arshi's poems - written to address the loss of her brother - are often quicksilver, airily spacious. [She is] refreshingly unafriad of tenderness. [...] This is poetry of raw truthfulness. It is urgently rooted in the practical. [...] Arshi's poems leave a sense that they spring from deep places, below consciousness, but are then brought to the page (and ear) by deliberate and lovely technique.'
Alison Brackenbury, Poetry London