Poetry International Poetry International
Poet

Asha Karami

Asha Karami

Asha Karami

(The Netherlands, 0)
Biography
Asha 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.


Godface is a collection of contrasting images and rapidly shifting perspectives, evoking the idea of a play for voices or a masquerade. Initially, the poems appear to be neutral observations: fragmented accounts from a rotating cast of characters whose voices range from the highly distinctive to the collective and obscure. But the narrative is swift to separate the author from the chorus, with Karami’s persona often piercing the fray: "Why do you constantly come across yourself? / "because you’re scattered everywhere". In her poem 'a body' she writes: "everything and everyone is talking to you / you must first secure your own mask / before helping anyone else."

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 2020
Godface, De Bezige Bij, Amsterdam 2019







For more information about New Dutch Poets 2020 click here
Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère