Port of Being

By Shazia Hafiz Ramji

Port of Being
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Shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award
Shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
Longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award
Winner of the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry

Voyeurism and fact go head to ... Read more


Overview

Shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award
Shortlisted for the Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Finalist for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize
Longlisted for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award
Winner of the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry

Voyeurism and fact go head to head in Port of Being, a debut book of poetry that mines speech from the city streets and the internet. These are poems set firmly on the threshold of the private and public, the future-haunted and the real, forging the human adrift in a terrain of space junk, drones, and addiction. Port of Being speaks just in time, navigating the worlds of surveillance, migration, and money, only to carve a way into intimacy and connection.

"Ramji has created an insightful, thoughtful, engaging and inspiring guide to being in the digital age. "Hamilton Review of Books

"These poems convey a tense, compelling vigilance. ”Toronto Star

"In equal measures, this book is bioluminescent, galactic, humane. Daring and intimate, it holds worlds. ”—Dani Couture, author of Listen Before Transmit

Shazia Hafiz Ramji

Shazia Hafiz Ramji was a finalist for the 2018 Alberta Magazine Awards, received the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and was a finalist for the 2016 National Magazine Awards. Her writing has appeared in Quill & Quire, Canadian Literature, the Puritan, and Metatron's ALPHA and OMEGA. She lives in Vancouver where she works as an editor and teaches creative writing.
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Excerpt

Flare

Seen in the process of isolation

A life shot

To accelerate the days

High-definition countours of the face

Better understood as contingent

Upon the camera in the corridor

A forum for regret in involuntary relations

One missing shade of blue

A perfect complement to the song

Opacity of thermoplastic

Intrusion of narrative

Tomb the excess of a body

An inhabited presentation

The bear on the wall

Habitual human conversation

Between photons and skin

Awards

  • Pat Lowther Memorial Award 2019, Long-listed
  • Gerald Lampert Memorial Award 2019, Short-listed
  • Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize 2019, Short-listed
  • City of Vancouver Book Award 2019, Short-listed
  • Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry 2017, Winner

Reviews

“Whether turned inward or outward, these poems convey a tense, compelling vigilance. ”Toronto Star

“With strategies that range impressively from collagist to pointillist to confessional, Port of Being fearlessly exhumes the fibre-optic nervous system undergirding our metropolises and oceans, and intercepts the mixed signals that traffic our airwaves. ”Quill and Quire

"A delightful voice emerges in the sprawl of systems throughout the poems, a sharp-eyed consciousness that builds momentary, shifting counter-environments through humour and wit, insight and attention. "Canadian Literature

"In charting the navigation from being passively observed to becoming an empowered observer, withcaptivating rhythms and energized juxtapositions, through a process of triangulating our culture and self, formal invention, captivating images, and an intriguing and wide range of subjects and reference, Ramji has created an insightful, thoughtful, engaging and inspiring guide to being in the digital age. "Hamilton Review of Books

“Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s poems, while betraying the occasional exhaustion, exasperation and frustration, don’t fall entirely into hopelessness, providing a glimmer of something beyond mere survival. ”—rob mclennan

“Port of Being by Shazia Hafiz Ramji, is a revelation: one that reveals the surface beneath the surface, and the uncertain in the overdetermined. If the city is a machine of social sublimation, then these poems are the glint of its gears. Ramji demonstrates with devastating energy how form is infrastructure. You could drown in the static of our times, or you could traverse it like an ocean.  Port of Being is an ingenious manual, in verse, for how to do the latter. ”—Wayde Compton, author of The Outer Harbour and 2017 judge of the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry

“Shazia Hafiz Ramji writes with an intimacy that echoes the unspoken familiar across the ocean to map us – to “root and hold” us – right now, right here where we live.  Port of Being is a collection of keen listening, where words are found, spliced, and always woven with sunshine, pain, and memory that shimmers. ”—Juliane Okot Bitek, author of 100 Days

“Port of Being confronts us with the global algorithms and state apparatuses docked in our consciousness, and the cyborgs of time and space that mark the shock of bodies rammed through ideologies. Here we find out how to navigate fake news, flags of convenience, and engineered personhood. A brilliant debut collection. Its politics bite back. ”—Meredith Quartermain, author of Vancouver Walking

“Like Teju Cole, Shazia Hafiz Ramji presents a city in full intricacy: the expansive possibilities of human connection and the digital silos that separate. Like Solmaz Sharif, she teaches us to look at violence: the quotidian bedrooms, buses, and spaces in which it is experienced, the ideologies that allow for its transmission.  Port of Being is urgent and uncomfortable, comforting and necessary. ”—Benjamin Hertwig, author of Slow War

“Like a section of ocean caught, cubed, and shot through with the light of our closest star, Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s Port of Being moves with and against time and borders. Her poems surveil what’s witnessed and what we admit to witnessing, the secrets we tell and those we keep, and the questions: why and for whose benefit? In equal measures, this book is bioluminescent, galactic, humane. Daring and intimate, it holds worlds. ”—Dani Couture, author of Listen Before Transmit

"In Port of Being, a desiring, witnessing body moves through Vancouver, speaking our individual human vulnerability to surveillance, technologies of war, and neo-capitalism’s brutal structuring of spaces and dreams. In a world where “Google knows more than our lovers,” Shazia Hafiz Ramji sees us acutely as ports: as soft animal receptacles for what travels at light speed through fibre optic cables, and as jagged, welcoming horizons, where we might exchange our cargos of experience and offer fellow voyagers tender language. Plug this book directly into your cardiac rhythms. "—Sonnet L’Abbé, author of Killarnoe

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