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Poetry Book Society Recommendation
In this, her boldest collection to date, Mimi Khalvati takes the weather, the seasons and the passage of night and day as the ground on which she draws her emblems of human life and love. Restricting herself in each poem to sixteen lines, set in couplets, Khalvati plays kaleidoscopic variations on this form, the lyric falling differently each time, yet the book as a whole retaining a powerful coherence. As the scene shifts from London to the Mediterranean to the Canaries, the poems gain resonance from each other with cumulative intensity, spinning connections across scale and distance. The Weather Wheel is a radiant celebration of the living world despite the loss that lies at the book's heart..
‘The Weather Wheel is the collection Mimi Khalvati was destined to write. It is her most complete and integrated collection to date. There is so much of her in it – in the same way there is so much of Bishop in Bishop’s poems, or Larkin in Larkin’s...
Her first full-length collection for seven years, The Weather Wheel consists 72 poems gathered into six subtitled sections, each section consisting of 12 poems. Each poem is 16 lines long and written in couplets. Together they exemplify Frost’s aphorism ‘Like a piece of ice on a hot stove, the poem must ride on its own melting.’ It’s as if Khalvati writes until the words themselves disappear and all we’re left with is stars and moon, tears and happiness, bicycles and pilgrims. They are, to quote Wallace Stevens, as ‘responsive/ As a mirror with a voice.'' - Maitreyabandhu
'Written around the time of my mother’s death, these poems take the day’s weather as a starting-point before spinning off in their own directions. They express the effects of weather on my mood and imagination and a desire to reconnect with the animal self — several are about small creatures, mostly real, some imaginary. The only person, apart from the speaker, that appears in these poems is the figure of my mother. Her absence, echoing her absence in my childhood, seems now, as then, to have intensified my relationship with the natural world — the huge presences of sky, stars, sun, moon, and the smaller presences of flora and fauna. By way of elegising my mother’s death, I celebrate these living companions. Although they have a sad undertow, I hope the poems are light and playful without denying the dark and dangers in the wider world.' — Mimi Khalvati, 2013
'Like a naturalist, but with a poet’s lexicon, Khalvati lovingly observes plants and animals, the smaller mammals and birds given centre stage. These warm-blooded species, with their delicacy, their fur and feathers, are, as slowly becomes apparent, a healing replacement for the deceased mother. In the wake of that death, as she reconceives her life on earth, Khalvati is also reinventing poetry.' — Alfred Corn
Poetry Book Society Speical Commendation
Child: New and Selected Poems 1991—2011 combines a generous collation of poems from Mimi Khalvati’s five Carcanet volumes with previously uncollected sequences. She orders her work autobiographically: from childhood and early adulthood; to motherhood; meditations on light; and love and art, circling back to childhood in her celebrated final sequence (‘The Meanest Flower’). The figure of the child stands at the centre of the book: the poet as a schoolgirl, or in later years with her grandmother in Tehran; her children, now grown; children in art; and an enduring sense of oneself as a child that is never left behind.
'The poems in this New and Selected volume range from tender poems of home and childhood (many set on the Isle of Wight where she grew up) to poems of motherhood, love and grief. This is work of great delicacy and poise, intimate and brave, subtle and honest, in which - as David Morley said – we readers find 'the living hand of the poem held always towards us'. - Michael Symmons Roberts, PBS Bulletin
Poetry Book Society Recommendation / Shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize 2007
Wordsworth's 'meanest flower that blows' suggested to him 'thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears'. The lyrics, elegies, songs and ghazals in Mimi Khalvati's new book pay attention to things the imagination generally disregards, an attention that is concentrated, intense and unapologetically Romantic. Hers is the true voice of feeling, undeflected by irony or self-deprecation. There is rapture in these poems as well as a tragic sense: nature, childhood, motherhood and family relationships all have a double valency, a give and take, to which Khalvati witnesses with a feeling sharpened by love and grief.
'Mimi Khalvati is one of the most poignant and graceful poets writing in England currently. The Meanest Flower speaks often of grief and loss but also of great pleasure in the world, in gardens, in loves, in other people. Under the lyricism there is an iron control that achieves its grace through subtlety. There reader is aware one is in the presence of a mind, a heart and an ear that has been schooled in depth, that finds it as naturally as do the flowers of the title.' - George Szirtes
Mimi Khalvati weaves themes rooted in her childhood home, the Isle of Wight. She considers the houses in which she lived, the past coming into focus, and the most memorable feature of the island landscape, the chine. These poems also concentrate on family themes that allow Khalvati to demonstrate her lyrical skills while exploring the necessary connections between love in all its forms.
Extracts from Reviews: The Chine
Mimi Khalvati's Selected Poems draws on her three Carcanet collections, In White Ink (1991), Mirrorwork (1995) and Entries on Light (1997). It provides us with the essential Khalvati, from the ambitiously wrought early formal poems, full of Persian and personal shadows, through to the meditations in the long sequence Entries on Light.
Extracts from Reviews: Selected Poems
Entries on Light is a series of meditations on light, on what light is and does, how --as it changes -- it invents and reinvents the things we see, are and were, how it inscribes our shadows and our feelings. Mimi Khalvati has always had a well-trained eye; she is also formally among the most resourceful poets writing today. If at times we think of Constable in the billowing movement of her fuller stanzas, we also -- in short-phrased sections -- are put in mind of the flat skies of Hokusai. She is a poet in whose vision east and west join.
Extracts from Reviews: Entries on Light
In Mirrorwork, Mimi Khalvati takes the Islamic art of mirror-mosaic as metaphor. The shorter poems refract one another, the three long sequences act as a mirror tryptych, their themes – of art, nature, domestic life and memory, east and west – drawing the other poems together. In Mirrorwork, Khalvati at once establishes a voice and questions its integrity.
Extracts from Reviews: Mirrorwork
Mimi Khalvati's first book of poems takes its title from Hélène Cixous' observation that women write 'in white ink'. The resonances of this phrase are explored in many of these poems. Writing in her adoptive mother tongue, Khalvati explores loss and recovery of country, language, family and power. The poems affirm the centrality of women and their relationships and celebrate, too, with candour and gentleness, the power of motherhood.
Extracts from Reviews: In White Ink
The Poet in the Wall, tr. Lidia Vianu • Bucharest: Univers Enciclopedic, 2007 •
Plant Care: A Festschrift for Mimi Khalvati (ed. E.A.Markham) • Sheffield & Paris: Linda Lee Books 2004 •
I Know a Place (illustrated by Beverlie Manson) • London: Dent’s Children’s Books,1985. (Dutch edn. 1986) •
Mimi Khalvati: Come fanno le ombre (a cura di Eleonora Chiavetta) • Sciascia editore, 2006 •
Persian Miniatures/A Belfast Kiss (with David Morley) • Smith/Doorstop, 1990 •