Here's a sneak preview from our exclusive interview with Alycia Pirmohamed on her debut collection Another Way to Split Water. Join the PBS today to read more in our Autumn Bulletin.
"I wrote the poems in Another Way to Split Water over the course of several years, so it was both surreal and nostalgic to encounter different versions of myself as I sequenced the collection. Earlier poems meditated on family and history; in them, I looked for a foothold on that slippery concept of ‘homeland’ and the possibly even more ungraspable notion of what it means to belong somewhere/ anywhere. Much of this book navigates that questioning self and hopes to capture familial experiences and stories that are told and retold, that reform and transform throughout generations.
Place, too, greatly inspired these poems and my creative process in general. For me, so much of the joy of writing is in crafting imagery, in building narrative threads through how one image echoes when placed next to another. In some cases, poems written over five years ago were finding new meaning and importance when set beside more recent work. As Another Way to Split Water came together, work about womanhood and sexuality, about faith and displacement, all found commonality and coherence through figurations of the natural world. Sara Ahmed writes that “the physical sense of moving through space is enough to trigger a memory of another place.” I wanted these poems to cross borders, to delve in and out of memory – to leak into dream worlds where mule deer in Alberta bound into snow and emerge again in childhood memories of Dar es Salaam."
Alycia Pirmohamed is a Canadian-born poet based in Scotland. She is the author of the pamphlets Hinge, Faces that Fled the Wind, and the collaborative essay, Second Memory, co-authored with Pratyusha. She is co-founder of the Scottish BPOC Writers Network, a co-organiser of the Ledbury Poetry Critics, and she currently teaches on the MSt. Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge. Alycia received an MFA from the University of Oregon and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She is the recipient of several awards, including the 2019 CBC Poetry Prize and the 2020 Edwin Morgan Poetry Award.
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