Zubair Ahmed's City of Rivers

Zubair Ahmed's debut poetry collection City of Rivers (McSweeney's Poetry Series, 2012) offers a series lyrical poems rich with natural imagery and reflections on family and home.

Ahmed's poems focus on private reflections and often turns on somewhat enigmatic imagery. As usual, I will comment on a poem that involves a dog, "A Dog in Bangladesh":
My tired body
Under the white sun.

A child half-buried in the ground.

Bermuda grass grows in the corners of my room--
An invasion of Bangladesh by grass!
The pictures of my wall expire like dying birds.

A dog is drowning in the drains of Rayarbazaar.
Should I save it?
Its legs are broken
Like the chair I sleep in.
The figure of the dog is often pitiful in Ahmed's poems, as in this example. Dogs are injured are broken, and they seem to echo a general permeation of brokenness in cities. In "It's Raining Again," "A dog in the corner drinks the overflow." And in a more explicit and disturbing passage in "The Crow's Ghost Watches,"
So I count the number of times
The dog looks up at me.
When the rains begin
The taxi with the sweaty driver,
Whose pregnant wife has left him,
Will crush the dog's head.
A few lines later, the smell of the dog's cadaver evokes memories of the war of 1971, the Bangladeshi war of independence from Pakistan. While most of the poems center on more intimate moments, a few echo this larger, defining event in Bangladesh's history.
  • Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful
YAY MOAR poetry... coincidentally McSweeney's is publishing Victoria Chang's next collection! YAY!