The poems in Port of Being hold modern technology--surveillance, shipping, the Internet--to examine communication, migration, and identity. Preoccupied with the city, virtuality, reflexivity, and the ways we watch ourselves, Shazia Hafiz Ramji's debut collection hums with wonder as it probes the human and non-human actors in our mouths and bodies, above and underneath the water, in the satellites and fibre optic cables that surround us all.
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.
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
- Sonnet L'Abbé
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
“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
“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
“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
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