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Moniza Alvi recommends Ten anthology for Christmas present

A Literary Wish List for Christmas: Twelve writers offer their recommendations for the festive season. Here is Moniza’s

Ten: New Poets Spread the Word, edited by Bernardine Evaristo and Daljit Nagra

Bloodaxe Books, Tarset, 2010, pbk, 128pp, £8.95, 978182248796,

This anthology is the eagerly awaited fruit of Spread the Word’s initiative to support talented poets with black and Asian backgrounds. It can be read, initially, almost at one sitting, and the effect is potent, the poets so individualistic and exciting, their cultural roots and linguistic/poetic influences so diverse. The raw material is often unsettling, raw indeed, its transformation into poetry remarkable. The riches in store include Karen McCarthy Woolf’s flaring, knife-edged poems on the death of ‘Otto McCarthy Woolf, born and died 7 August 2007’, Mir Mahfuz Ali’s revival of the Bengali tradition in his fresh, sensuous poetry of witness, Malika Booker’s astonishing, traumatic ‘Pepper Sauce’, and Seni Seneviratne’s dramatic, perfectly pitched ‘Sitting for the Mistress’ in the voice of the black child servant in a painting by Pierre Mignard. Introductions to the poets by their distinguished mentors are an added attraction of this exceptional book.

The other 11 recommendations are  on the Wasafri webstite