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Moving between the scriptures of the Qur'an and the Bible, these poems explore the complexities and spectacles of gender, faith, and family by unraveling the age-old idea that seeing is believing. Navigating both scripture and culture, the poems in Theophanies work to spin miracles from the mundanities of desire and violence. Through art and music, Pakistani history, and scriptural stories, these poems struggle to envision a true self and speak back against time to the matriarchs of the larger Abrahamic faiths, the mothers at the heart of sacred history Stitched through these poems is longing--for mothers, angels, and signs from the divine. Theophanies asks: is seeing really believing, and is believing belonging? The speaker seeks to understand her own, bewildering "I," to use it with reverence, and to mythologize herself and all mothers to ensure their survival in a male-dominated world hard at work erasing them In the absence of matrilineal elders in her family, the speaker turns to the archetypal "mother of nations" for whom she is named, Sarah, and her sent-away "sister," Hajar. What does it mean to have a woman's body when that body has been hailed a vessel for the divine? Theophanies arises from the speaker's tenuous grip on her own faith while navigating the colonial legacy of Partition and inherited patriarchal expectations of womanhood.
About the Author
Sarah Ghazal Ali is the author of Theophanies (Alice James Books, 2024), selected as Editors' Choice for the 2022 Alice James Award. A Djanikian Scholar, her poems and essays appear in POETRY, American Poetry Review, Pleiades, the Rumpus, Haydens Ferry Review, Best New Poets 2022, and elsewhere. She is the editor-in-chief of Palette Poetry, poetry editor for West Branch, and a '22-23 Stadler Fellow at Bucknell University. Learn more at sarahgali.com.