I cannot be good until you say it

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Pub Date 14 Mar 2024 | Archive Date 14 Mar 2024

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Description

The much-anticipated debut collection by the winner of the Outspoken Performance Poetry Prize: a tender meditation on queerness and Islam

Intricately weaving Quranic verse, psychology, and the hip-hop soundtrack of their childhood, Sanah’s poems reach for divinity in the body; an archive that refuses erasure.

These poems traverse unruly emotional and physical landscapes, Whiteness, islamophobia, homophobia, intergenerational suffering, and the politics of therapeutic processes. In these pages, belief and unbelief, goodness and badness, the material and spiritual are intertwined, reclaiming queer love and desire as holy.

How are we incarcerated by others’ gazes? Who gets to be good in a society built upon hierarchy? How might we embrace each other’s madnesses? Sanah Ahsan asks questions that travel to the heart of our humanness, bending the lines between psychologist and client to show us the sacred nature of our wounds. These poems kneel to the messiness of being alive, building altars to complication and presence.

Refusing binaries of gender or religious doctrine, I cannot be good until you say it finds what is to be revered in the grey spaces of morality, advancing imagination and self-compassion as sites of communion.

This debut collection is a call to prayer, fearlessly complicating what is good, and what is god.

The much-anticipated debut collection by the winner of the Outspoken Performance Poetry Prize: a tender meditation on queerness and Islam

Intricately weaving Quranic verse, psychology, and the hip-hop...


Advance Praise

'Dissolving whatever boundaries would wall us off from love, Ahsan finds a way to let it all be holy' Victoria Adukwei-Bulley

'A daring debut collection, which guides us through the complexities of just being' Yomi Sode

'An honour to have read this book ... I am forever changed after reading its beauty' Nikita Gill

'Innovative and deeply compassionate' Mary Jean Chan

'Dexterous, varied, erotic, filled with rage, worships and wonder ... I am electrified' Pádraig Ó Tuama

'An artful and inspired set of poems' Anthony Anaxagorou

'Ahsan is doing liberation work, offering readers a prayer, a song, a hand to hold' Kaveh Akbar

'Alive with a want and restlessness that remakes the "You" of desire – and faith – again and again' Will Harris

'A remarkable and transformative collection' Keith Jarrett

'A heart punching debut collection' Raymond Antrobus

'Dissolving whatever boundaries would wall us off from love, Ahsan finds a way to let it all be holy' Victoria Adukwei-Bulley

'A daring debut collection, which guides us through the complexities of...


Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781526665867
PRICE £9.99 (GBP)
PAGES 112

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Featured Reviews

Wow. I loved this poetry collection. I've been picking up many of the works published in this series and Sanah Ahsan's is my favourite to date. The poems span queer intimacy, family, grief, spirituality, racism, and many other topics. Ahsan's style of expression is so rhythmic but also delicate. I found several poems profoundly moving and I've gone back to read more than one several times since I recieved the e-ARC from Netgalley. Certain this will be one of my poetry collections of the year (even though we are only a few days in.)

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This collection felt poignant and liberating throughout and it definitely made me feel reach into the depths of my emotions.

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Incredibly evocative and rich, and though I'm not a fan of poetry, I won't hold it against this book! I felt a real connection to the title which is why I requested it and Ahsan's poetry is so powerful.

'My Dua is Love' was my personal favourite, I re-read it at least 6 times.

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A fantastic debut collection of poems.

I have only started reading poetry recently so probably missed some of the deeper meanings but still found most of these poems moving in some way.

The collection covers many themes, including queerness, racism, psychology, family, goodness and Islam.
Even though I have little understanding of Islam the poetry did a great job of questioning what it is to be a good Muslim in today’s society. I found this especially thought provoking. I even went on to listen to some of the passages from the Quran the author mentions.

For me this was a great collection to start my poetry journey with. The range of language, forms and formatting and the modern and spiritual themes gave me something I could relate to whilst giving me plenty to think about.

The variety here meant that I enjoyed most of these poems on first read but there is also enough depth for me to want to come back and read again. I’m sure that when I have explored more poetry I will find even more in this collection to enjoy.

Thanks to Netgalley and Bloomsbury Publishing for the free copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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I don’t read a lot of poetry outside of classic poetry of writers like Emily Dickinson or Shelly but so I’m glad I read this debut poetry collection. Sanah Ahsan highlights themes of religion, spirituality, queerness, and Pakistani culture.

Ahsan writes powerfully and eloquently about all parts of their identity, I have no doubt many people will feel at home within their words.

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such an amazing collection of poems, highlighting themes of religion, spirituality, queerness and pakistani culture. i love reading books by muslim authors and seeing what religion means to them — i think it helps open my mind further because sometimes it can mean something completely different to them compared to what it means to me.

i felt quite touched by so many of the words in these poems; the mash up of the pakistani and british culture, intertwined with Islam, was so relatable + really made me scream "omg i get how this feels!" so many times, and i loved that i got so many of the cultural and language references.

i really enjoyed this collection, and a few parts even made me feel a little teary. an absolute must read for people who enjoy poetry.

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I cannot be good until you say it is a the debut collection of poetry by Sanah Ahsan, exploring queerness, Islam, racism, and what is good and what goodness might mean. The poems span a range of topics, using a range of language and registers and ways of formatting on the page, and I like the way the poems avoid rigid boundaries of what can go together, feeling part of poetic traditions (and the book is littered with quotations) but also fresh. This is a highly personal collection that explores the self, family, love, sex, religion, and particularly how queerness weaves throughout these, and it really comes together as a full book even as it explores fragmentation of self.

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