On 12 March, colleagues and relatives alike were delighted to be invited to a glittering launch event for Qudsia Akhtar’s first poetry collection, Khamoshi (Silence), published by Verve Poetry Press, based in Birmingham.
The event featured presentations from Peter Wells — Qudsia’s former English teacher — and Scott Thurston — Qudsia’s PhD supervisor. Rather than read from the book, Qudsia took the inventive step of screening a new short film which interprets a key poem from the collection. The audience then enjoyed a wonderful banquet and finished off the event with pieces of a book-shaped cake especially made for the occasion!
Congratulations to Qudsia on this major acheivement. As Professor Sandeep Parmar (University of Liverpool) wrote of Khamoshi:
“Can one experience diaspora / in the body?” Qudsia Akhtar’s poems are silted with female loss, a kind of silence that builds slowly inside generations of migrant women. Through partition, nationalism, racism, sex and filial duty, these poems ask to whom do we belong if not our selves? A motherland calls to its daughters; an adopted country demands to hear her voice. Akhtar’s language is rich and exact, fearing sentiment, turning on its heel towards a path entirely of its own.”
Here are a selection of photos from this memorable event.
You can order Khamoshi on the Verve website here.