Longlisted for the 2023 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Longlisted for the 2022 Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize
A New Yorker Essential Read of 2022
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2022
An NPR Best Book of 2022
A Literary Hub Best Reviewed Poetry Collection of 2022
'Witty and incisive... [Sharif] masterfully traverses the landscape of exile and all its complicated grief' New York Times
The devastating second collection by Solmaz Sharif, author of Look, a National Book Award finalist
With Customs, Solmaz Sharif offers a series of poetic refusals, weighing nuanced questions about what it means to belong to a place. In the face of hard borders these poems seek a reckoning with the structures, in society, in language itself, by which these limits act on us.
Sharif examines what it means to exist in the nowhere of the arrivals terminal; to navigate a continual series of checkpoints, officers, searches, and questionings that can become a relentless challenge; a mutating shibboleth.
Through the poet's adept balancing of tonal and formal elements, these poems interrogate the 'customs' of the nation-state, of the English language, of the paces these systems put us through. But this work is not enjoined to a hopeless quest. Instead, the propulsive force that informs each line, each white space, and punctuation mark, is a powerfully galvanizing and healing force.
Customs reminds us of the generative possibilities of restlessness, of seeking in each poem to refresh what it is a poem can be and do.
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Date of Publication: 27/04/2023