Moez Surani is a poet, reviewer and short fiction author. His writing has been included in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including The Literary Review of Canada and The Walrus. He has attended writing residencies in Finland, Latvia and Switzerland, and his writing has won the Chalmers Arts Fellowship, the Kingston Literary Award and the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest. He lives in Toronto.
Great Blue Heron Poetry Prize Citation, Antigonish Review: Fall 2010
When a poet speaks of having been “given” a line, often the poem’s first line that sets the form, pace and sounds of the rest of the poem, then he or she may be hearing poetry at its origin, not as an idea, not as a mood.
The judges decided that the first prize winner, “Are the Rivers in Your Poems Real,” by Moez Surani is such a poem. It shows a fearless trust in the lyrical. It never abates its space. One judge commented: “The speaker’s insistent questioning is mirrored by the poem’s form rolling forward with confidence, sustaining its energy throughout, allowing its impulse the room to develop, deepen and reset its course.” There are, however, persistent ambiguities in the poem preventing it from being too rhetorical. There are switches of address and reference from “rivers” to “this river,” from “they” to “it,” from “you” to “I,” from western cultural experience to eastern, from the whole body of human poetic experience to the particular poetic experience of the speaker. Whether the speaker’s river is confluent with all other rivers, or whether those rivers are confluent with the speaker’s river may seem only two different ways of asking the same question. But the poem refuses to say yes to either. By doing so it dramatizes the tension between the world of the collective myth and poetic imagination on the one hand and individual experience and empirical decision on the other.
Author photo: Robin Heron