Wednesday 15 June 2022

Mina Gorji, "Scale"

Mina Gorji was born in Iran and lives in Cambridge, where she is Associate Professor at the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge and a fellow of Pembroke college. Her debut, Art of Escape (Carcanet, 2020) was a Telegraph 'Book of the Month.' She has published poems in Poetry Review, Magma, London Magazine, bath magg, bad lilies and the Forward Book of Poetry amongst others. She has also written a study of John Clare's poetry, and essays on weeds, rudeness, little things and listening; a lyric-critical essay, 'Listening for Stars,' was published in Poetry Review (2021). Her new book is Scale (Carcanet, 2022). 

About Scale, by Mina Gorji 

At the volcano's edge, in exilic space, at the bottom of the Arctic Sea, or in the acid clouds of Venus, Mina Gorji's Scale traces life at its limits. The poems range across scales of distance, temperature and time, from vast to minute, glacial to volcanic, Pleistocene to present day, constellation to millipede. Adapting to the cold of a new continent opens a chromatic investigation of feeling. Shifting between scales, from insect to ancient star, Scale explores the forms, conditions and frequencies of survival.

Gorji's poems feed into current ecological concerns, but in no conventional or clich├ęd way. Marina Warner described her poems as 'building a place of safety—for herself, her family, her readers, and all those who are wandering and uprooted; her poetic methods take their cue from the many marvellous creatures she evokes and the multiple protective measures they adopt—nests, camouflage, mimicry, display. Above all, language can help create shelter.'

You can read more about Scale on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read two poems from the collection. 


From Scale

The world is growing smaller
One of the tadpoles has died.
It is lying very still,
comma turned full stop.
Nobody cries.
We feel the shadow –
even as we shrink
from its touch
behind closed doors.
It is spring.
Up in the attic
I am imagining
deadnettle leaf
through a beetle’s eyes.


I dream of distance –
cold, untroubled distance,
the quiet further reaches of our sun,
far out from Saturn’s icy rings,
cold, remote, so beautiful.
Planet of the underworld,
guarded by Charon, Kerberos,
Styx, Nix, and Hydra.
We see your features,
almost familiar –
canyons, ice plains,
mountains topped
with mercury snow.

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