Winner of the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry
Voyeurism and fact go head to head in Port of Being, a debut book of poetry that mines speech from the city streets and the internet. These are poems set firmly on the threshold of the private and public, the future-haunted and the real, forging the human adrift in a terrain of space junk, drones, and addiction. Port of Being speaks just in time, navigating the worlds of surveillance, migration, and money, only to carve a way into intimacy and connection.
Shazia Hafiz Ramji was a finalist for the 2018 Alberta Magazine Awards, received the 2017 Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry, and was a finalist for the 2016 National Magazine Awards. Her writing has appeared in Quill & Quire, Canadian Literature, The Puritan, and Metatron’s ALPHA and OMEGA. She lives in Vancouver where she works as an editor and teaches creative writing. She is at work on a book of stories and a second book of poems.
“Shazia Hafiz Ramji writes with an intimacy that echoes the unspoken familiar across the ocean to map us – to “root and hold” us – right now, right here where we live. Port of Being is a collection of keen listening, where words are found, spliced, and always woven with sunshine, pain, and memory that shimmers.”—Juliane Okot Bitek, author of100 Days
“Port of Being by Shazia Hafiz Ramji, is a revelation: one that reveals the surface beneath the surface, and the uncertain in the overdetermined. If the city is a machine of social sublimation, then these poems are the glint of its gears. Ramji demonstrates with devastating energy how form is infrastructure. You could drown in the static of our times, or you could traverse it like an ocean. Port of Being is an ingenious manual, in verse, for how to do the latter.”—Wayde Compton, author of The Outer Harbour and 2017 judge of the Robert Kroetsch Award for Innovative Poetry
“Like a section of ocean caught, cubed, and shot through with the light of our closest star, Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s Port of Being moves with and against time and borders. Her poems surveil what’s witnessed and what we admit to witnessing, the secrets we tell and those we keep, and the questions: why and for whose benefit? In equal measures, this book is bioluminescent, galactic, humane. Daring and intimate, it holds worlds.”—Dani Couture, author of Listen Before Transmit
“Like Teju Cole, Shazia Hafiz Ramji presents a city in full intricacy: the expansive possibilities of human connection and the digital silos that separate. Like Solmaz Sharif, she teaches us to look at violence: the quotidian bedrooms, buses, and spaces in which it is experienced, the ideologies that allow for its transmission. Port of Being is urgent and uncomfortable, comforting and necessary.”—Benjamin Hertwig, author of Slow War
“Port of Being confronts us with the global algorithms and state apparatuses docked in our consciousness, and the cyborgs of time and space that mark the shock of bodies rammed through ideologies. Here we find out how to navigate fake news, flags of convenience, and engineered personhood. A brilliant debut collection. Its politics bite back.”—Meredith Quartermain, author of Vancouver Walking
In Port of Being, a desiring, witnessing body moves through Vancouver, speaking our individual human vulnerability to surveillance, technologies of war, and neo-capitalism’s brutal structuring of spaces and dreams. In a world where “Google knows more than our lovers,” Shazia Hafiz Ramji sees us acutely as ports: as soft animal receptacles for what travels at light speed through fibre optic cables, and as jagged, welcoming horizons, where we might exchange our cargos of experience and offer fellow voyagers tender language. Plug this book directly into your cardiac rhythms.—Sonnet L’Abbé, author of Killarnoe