A Muslim woman engaging in religious and political imagery in lyric and narrative styles, Rahat Kurd steps out our of her cultural comfort zone to provide a unique book of poetry that combines reflections on Kashmir, Muslim culture, and religious imagery, with an often alienating yet also stimulating city life.
What earthly use is the love of ornament? Slowing down to look closely at an inherited shawl made by hand, the title poem in Rahat Kurd’s Cosmophilia traces an object of luxury to the traditionally male art of Kashmiri shawl embroidery. The poet works with images from Kashmir, her maternal family’s place of origin, where the ability to make and appreciate beautiful things is both absolutely essential and taken for granted; where increasingly rare levels of artistic mastery are simultaneously prized and trivialized; where the struggle to
carry on traditional art forms is strained by awareness of increasing obsolescence, severe political repression, and environmental degradation; a place both celebrated and dismissed as spectacle, as “paradise on earth.”
This emotionally powerful collection follows the elaborate, unexpected turns of the poet’s imagination, enlisting intricate details of memory and language and the occasional plain truth – “the hard solitude of the maker.” They intertwine political conflict and family history; they imagine Hamlet reluctantly confronting the partition of India and Pakistan. Cosmophilia translates multiple glittering facets of Muslim culture into, and reflects back from, the immediacy of embodied, urban Canadian experience.
Tuesday, March 29 2016
Octopus Books Centretown (@25One Community)
251 Bank St. 2nd floor
About the Author
Rahat Kurd was a finalist in the 2014 Gwendolyn MacEwen Poetry Prize and named Emerging Artist in the Literary Arts category of the 2013 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Awards. Her essays have appeared in The Walrus and Maisonneuve magazines. She is a poet and a prose writer at work on a memoir about the making of Muslim culture in North America. Her work has been nominated for National Magazine Awards in the categories of Poetry and Personal Journalism (2011) and shortlisted for a CBC Literary Award (2007). She is the author of Reading Rights: A Woman’s Guide to the Law in Canada (Quarry Press, 1999).
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