Solmaz Sharif


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Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
27 April 2023
ISBN: 9781526655295
112 pages

From the publisher

Longlisted for the 2023 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award
Longlisted for the 2022 Brooklyn Public Library Book Prize
New Yorker Essential Read of 2022
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2022
An NPR Best Book of 2022
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.