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The Art of Scratching

Authors: Shazea Quraishi

Published by Bloodaxe Books

ISBN: 9781780372488

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Taking inspiration from sources including historical and medical texts, curator’s notes and the Complete Kama Sutra, Shazea Quraishi’s poems explore love and loss through a range of voices: an Iraqi mother holds her fragile son; under the guise of ardour, a courtesan searches a client for signs of the woman she loves; a wife is unsettled by her husband’s new family… 

The Art of Scratching is her first book-length collection, and includes The Courtesans Reply, a sequence written in response to the Caturbhani, four plays written around 300 BC on the life of courtesans in India.

‘There is an intriguing collision between the archaeological and the lyrical in Shazea Quraishi’s series of poems,The Courtesans Reply… The props and rituals bestow on these poems an exotic otherness but the emotions they explore are timeless’ – Stephen Knight, Ten.

‘Shazea Quraishi is one of a number of younger black and Asian women poets currently gaining ground in UK poetry. In sensual, clear, perfectly measured tones, her poems meet the male gaze with a female voice’ – Katie Evans-Bush, Poetry International Web.

‘Shazea Quraishi, in The Courtesans Reply, sensitively reconstructs an unfamiliar and vanished culture. Working from historical and literary sources, Quraishi never allows her research to speak louder than the human voices of her characters, a community of courtesans in Ancient India. Their individual feelings and desires emerge through lines which are simultaneously spare and sensuous’ – Richard O’Brien, Poetry London.

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