Doyali Islam

heft by Doyali Islam

Griffin Poetry Prize 2020
Canadian Shortlist

Book: heft

Poet: Doyali Islam

Publisher: McClelland & Stewart

Click here to read an excerpt.

Doyali Islam


Doyali Islam’s poems have been published in Kenyon Review Online, The Fiddlehead, and The Best Canadian Poetry in English, and have won several national contests and prizes. Doyali is the former poetry editor of Arc Poetry Magazine, and has been a National Magazine Awards finalist for poetry, and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She lives in Toronto, Ontario. heft is her second collection of poetry.

Judges’ Citation

“Laid out against the horizontal landscape of the page, from the very beginning these poems demand from the reader a reorientation, and set out a goal to teach us how to read differently – not only the poems but also the world. What is beautiful and successful here is the way Doyali Islam takes small moments and gives to them an incredible, sometimes aching, heft: the ephemera left in a pocket become a map leading us back to love; an ant observed on the floor finds its way onto a white page – a black mark effectively writing its own poem, ‘struggling to interpret its situation’. In each of these poems, Islam makes that struggle for interpretation both wonderful and worthwhile.”

visit to a thrift shop

i can’t remember which london corner
but i remember the brown corduroy
making something of my legs as she searched.
not purses, but knits. …outside, winter streets
holding shuffling figures close for passing warmth.
in a mirror a face not quite hers sees
her, searching too. when will you return? she
turns, once again leaving, left. knows she is
already forgetting the charge of her
mother’s eyes, their colour like karkade
steeped in evenings. what this language would call
hibiscus. she sleeps between fits and wakes
to the tv on the wall’s other side.
she knows it muffles grief, and points to it.

From heft by Doyali Islam
Copyright © 2019 by Doyali Islam

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Photo credits:
Doyali Islam, by Arden Wray