Saturday 2 March 2024

Z. R. Ghani, "In the Name of Red"


Z. R. Ghani is from London. She graduated with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University in 2012. Her poems, which explore themes of identity, femininity, religion, and nature, have been published in literary journals such as Magma, Black Bough Poetry and The Adriatic. In 2021 her first collection of poems was shortlisted in the Poetry Wales Pamphlet Competition.

About In the Name of Red
From lips and warmed cheeks to silk and falling leaves, the subjects of Z.R. Ghani's poems radiate with redness. Sometimes a cloak, often a shining symbol, Ghani's reds are sacred and dazzling: pomegranates ripening to jewels and perfectly-placed bindis shining like suns.

But something darker lurks beneath the ruby depths. A city is held hostage by a heatwave, a flame is lit in a dark room, a ballerina twists inside a jewellery box.

As though developing photographs, Ghani shines a deep light over her poems as a tool to slowly make the unseen visible, the unsaid audible. This is a debut book rich with desire, shame, grief, faith, love, and at the forefront of it all: the colour red.

You can read more about In the Name of Red on the publisher's website here. Below, you can read a sample poem from the collection. 

From In the Name of Red, by Z. R. Ghani


There are reasons to grieve today.
Mother runs a cold tap
over slabs of laundry,
cursing the day she was born.
That unwashed stench of hospital—
flesh, sweat, placenta
lolls over me like a suicide.
Her fourth daughter is a week old;
I’m not the youngest anymore.
I can’t help but steal glances,
though I’ll soon hear haunting  
thuds as she beats herself, 
or threatens to drink bleach.

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