(The Netherlands, 0)
© Hellen van Meene
BiographyAsha Karami is a poet, a doctor who works in youth health care and a ringside physician at martial arts tournaments. She learned to speak four languages fluently as a child, and has changed her name several times. In 2018, she won second place at the National Poetry Slam championship, having competed as an ‘anti-performance’ performer. Her highly lauded debut, Godface (2019), was nominated for the Herman de Coninckprijs, De Grote Poëzieprijs and E. du Perronprijs.
The contours of Karami’s poems are porous; voices, moods, locations, and time merge in writing that is not bound by traditional form. Relentless rhythm gives way to space and silence; poems morph into letters, dialogues, and theater. Karami subtly directs the chorus, often balancing the darker matter with disarming honesty and humor: "the last time she was pregnant / she only wanted fresh herring / we bought a hijarbie for her unborn daughter / and then we lost contact." In less careful hands, this kaleidoscopic approach to poetry could seem flighty, but the writing is always anchored by the strength of Karami’s vision.
Asha Karami’s experimentation is not limited to the page; she has also collaborated with multimedia artists to give her poems the opportunity to speak through digital bodies and landscapes and push them into new terrain. In an interview with The Optimist in 2018, Karami said of her work: "For me, poetry is a means of action or resistance. Unreasonable, physical, and instinctive. I want to communicate my sense of disruption and alienation to the reader or listener. I want to explore the limits of language and genre conventions, and, if I succeed, break through them."
© Frances Welling (Translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey), New Dutch Poets 2020Godface, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2019
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Poems of Asha Karami
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère