Poetry Pause x Biblioasis: Alycia Pirmohamed — Snapshot of My Father

Poem Author: Alycia Pirmohamed Poem title: Snapshot of my father Poem: Last night I dreamt of black seagulls and shapeshifting. Man, woman, God, animal— and then grief, in the shape of a conversation between my father and a young waiter, strangers, both from Dar es Salaam, bonding over takeout orders and all of those buildings, so many new buildings, rising from the dregs of a backyard, a garden, a seven-shilling cinema, a mother’s grave. After waking, I could taste Swahili, while the floating pedals of my father’s old bicycle whirred in my head like cogs, madly turning, fragmenting my life into questions: what am I? Over and over again, what am I? Earlier that day before the birds and the gashes, before the remnants of an old conversation, my father pulled up next to the fence, rolled down his car window and said, “I quit religion.” My father, with the dark green Qur’an that radiates in my memory, the man who ends every conversation with a prayer. Here it is. A moment cut open, and a life reaching for heaven in the split seam, finding nothing, just air shapeshifting into air. End of poem. Credits: Publication/Copyright information: “Snapshot of my Father” appeared in Arc Poetry Magazine copyright © 2018 by Alycia Pirmohamed. “Snapshot of my Father” also appeared in Best Canadian Poetry 2019 (Biblioasis, 2019). Reprinted with permission of the author. Author biography (150 words or less): Alycia Pirmohamed is from Alberta. Her first chapbook, Faces that Fled the Wind, won the BOAAT Chapbook Prize, and is forthcoming in fall 2019. She is a recent winner of the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest in poetry, and a winner of the 92y/Discovery Poetry Contest. Alycia currently studies literature written by second-generation immigrants at the University of Edinburgh, and she received an MFA in poetry from the University of Oregon. Biblioasis is a literary press based in Windsor, Ontario committed to publishing the best poetry, fiction and nonfiction in beautifully crafted editions. Best Canadian Poetry 2019 edited by guest editor Rob Taylor, series editor Anita Lahey, and advisory editor Amanda Jernigan (Biblioasis, 2019)

About Best Canadian Poetry:

Launched in 2008 by Tightrope Books with former series editor Molly Peacock, the Best Canadian Poetry Series features fifty Canadian poets annually, drawn from Canadian literary journals magazines, both print and on-line. Each year, a distinguished guest editor (2008, Stephanie Bolster; 2009, A.F. Moritz; 2010, Lorna Crozier; 2011, Priscila Uppal; 2012, Carmine Starnino; 2013, Sue Goyette; 2014, Sonnet L’Abbé; Jacob McArthur Mooney, 2015, Helen Humphreys, 2016, Hoa Nguyen, 2018) selects the poems based on their intellectual, artistic, or inventive merit. The editorial taste changes with each new volume. The special Best of the Best Canadian Poetry: Tenth Anniversary Edition celebrates ten stellar years of the series.

As of 2019, the series is being published by Biblioasis and currently thrives under the stewardship of series editor Anita Lahey and advisory editor Amanda Jernigan. Best Canadian Poetry ushers readers into the heart of the diverse Canadian poetry scene. The anthology is a must-read for anyone with a stake or interest in contemporary Canadian literature.