Project Description

Shazea Quraishi


Shazea Quraishi is a Pakistani-born Canadian poet and translator whose poems have appeared in UK and US publications. Her collection is The Art of Scratching (Bloodaxe: 2015)and she is adapting her chapbook The Courtesans Reply as a play. She has received a Brooklease Grant from the Royal Society of Literature, and an Artists International Development Fund award from the British Council and Arts Council.

from ‘The Courtesans Reply’

In the beginning
my whole body was covered with skin
hard as rock.  Then he came

and his mouth
running over me was a river, cool and quick
with small silver fish.

Night after night
he shaped me,
smoothed me down

to velvet


Now I bathe while he watches,
eyes fireflie
on my skin.

I bend over,
my hair between us
a curtain of water.

I let him towel me dry,
his strokes soft… then brisk,
a cloth shining a lamp.

Water drips down
my back.  He grasps my hair
and climbs.

Still Light

You picture your mother as a tree
– somehow that makes it easier –
a silver birch, undressing
unhurriedly, as though days were years,
while a fine rain plays
like jazz in her hair.  She drops
her fine, white leaves
one by one.  Her branches
are almost bare now.  See
how beautiful she is against the darkening sky.

Shazea Quraishi

from ‘The Art of Scratching’