Cape Breton Regional Library

Celebrate National Poetry Month with Basma Kavanagh

Nova Scotia poet and visual artist Basma Kavanagh, winner of the 2016 Lansdowne Prize for Poetry for her work Niche (Frontenac, 2015), will read from her new book length poem Ruba’iyat for the Time of Apricots (Frontenac House Press, 2018).  The poem comprises three interwoven threads: Ahli, an auto/biographical thread about Basma’s Lebanese heritage; Astura, a grim tale linking climate change and the oppression of women, and Ana, a reflection on identity, language, and writing.

In telling the story of her mother, her aunts, and their mother—a story of tradition, gesture, ritual, transformation, and self— she attempts to persist against the erasure of the nuanced and tenacious feminine histories that co-exist with our troubled present and its bland stereotypes.  Like a seed, a family story houses its ancestors, and the diversity—genetic and experiential—that equips us to thrive in a multitude of possible futures.

Written in quatrains, called ruba’iyat in Arabic, from the word for “four”, each stanza of this poem is self-contained, yet converses with adjacent stanzas to build a narrative. The repetition of phrases across stanzas, and the studding of the text with Arabic words, combine to create a layered, incantatory quality evoking the complexity of Arabic oral poetry.

Basma’s visit is sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets with support from the Canada Council for the Arts, in celebration of National Poetry Month.

Everyone welcome!


McConnell Library - 50 Falmouth Street

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