Banoo ZBänoo Zan’s book Songs of Exile is shortlisted for our 2017 Gerald Lampert Memorial Award! As we near the awards ceremony where the winner will be announced, we wanted to take some time to meet the shortlisted poets and find out more about what inspired their most recent poetry collections. Below is an original poem by Bänoo Zan, which she calls the introduction she never wrote for this debut collection of poems. First, let’s hear a little more about the book itself, from publisher Guernica Editions:

“The poems in Songs of Exile are not simply about geographical or political exile. They reveal a metaphorical exile from the poet’s lost self, the one she left behind in Iran, her place of origin, the one she has struggled to preserve all her life. They reveal concern about the Middle East and the negative associations with Iran; preoccupation with the possibility of reconciliation between the three Abrahamic religions; worries about family back home; and broodings on newly found friends and lovers. In these poems, the political is personal. ”

The Gerald Lampert Memorial Award shortlist also includes Christopher Gudgeon, Jennifer Houle, Johne Nyman, Ingrid Ruthig, and Margo Wheaton. Find more meet the shortlist posts here!

The introduction I didn’t write for Songs of Exile


Identity is a pen

Borders are books

You are the writer


Your feet

turn the road

into you


Poetry is the language

of accents



silence to songs


I am


barbed wire


Give me

your destiny

and I will read you

better than Persian


Books exile



like children



The lines echo:

We are the clouds

life took off

only to land on


In the quiet of the page

the words

get away with the voice


You can’t give up

your peace

looking beyond


Identity is skin

Conflicts are bones

Exile is the soul




The story of our origins

is a preventable