(this is a lightly-edited version of the article which appeared on the University’s intranet, written by Loughlan Campbell)
Qudsia Akhtar, (3rd year AHRC funded doctoral researcher in Creative Writing) has had her satirical piece ‘My Dad is A Terrorist’ highly commended by the renowned Forward Prizes panel and is featured in The Forward Book of Poetry 2023.
The Forward Prizes are highly regarded awards for new poetry published in the UK and Ireland and its annual collection is regarded as the definitive platform for British poetry talent.
Qudsia’s poem sketches the overly suspicious perception of the male Muslim identity in a post-terror landscape.
She said: “I knew about the Forward Prizes and was aware of the calibre of poetry that they publish, so I was ecstatically happy when I heard that I was going to be featured. As a writer you are constantly questioning whether your work is any good, so it was a lovely feeling to see that it was highly commended and to have it included in a collection full of such wonderful poets.”
“The piece itself is quite personal to me as it is about my dad and my own experience of growing up and hearing all the stereotypes that you hear about Muslims in Britain. I wanted to address it in a playful way which made fun of these stereotypes and showed it from my perspective as someone who is trying to explore their own identity.”
The poem was first printed in The Ofi Press, an online literary magazine that promotes poetry, fiction and essays from contemporary poets and writers across the world and was later included in Qudsia’s debut poetry collection Khamosi (Verve Poetry Press, 2022). The collection, the title of which means ‘silence’ in Urdu, traces the complexities of living as a British-Pakistani writer and tackles the broader historical perspectives of the trauma of partition and the experiences of racism and sexism.
Qudsia’s poetry has also been featured in a variety of other literary publications such as Acumen, Tower Poetry Anthology and the Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal.
Qudsia’s PhD supervisor at Salford, Professor Scott Thurston, said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear of Qudsia’s most recent success as her career continues to go from strength to strength. Some of her undergraduate poems went on to be included in her first collection, but the level of recognition afforded by Forward takes things to another level.”
“It’s wonderful that Qudsia continues to embody the vocation of the poet as celebrated by one of her favourite writers, Muhammed Iqbal, who saw the task of the poet as to ‘create beauty in that which is ugly and strange’ and ultimately to ‘make life develop itself’. We are excited to see what she does next!”