Gate: threshold, corridor, barrier. Sahar Muradi engages power, war, illness, and language to evoke the physical and literary passages that accompany individual and collective loss. In [ G A T E S ], the loss of a homeland meets the loss of a dying father meets the loss of meaning amidst war, racism, and environmental degradation. Muradi's highly charged, deeply transformative poems interrogate the contemporary moment's collapsing of space, where near and far, private and global are no longer distinct. In the sometimes elliptical, sometimes rapidly changing spaces inhabited by these sixteen poems, languages of politics and intimacy exist in constant tension so that the sweeping violence of an occupied Afghanistan cannot, for instance, be separated from the intimate violence of the dying of a loved one. Muradi's speakers call out to us from a world of tightly-braided oppressions to ask how language can be a function of (in)justice, how a life is valued, and how poetry, like a gate, may function as a passage from pain to pain, promise to promise, truth to truth.
"These charged, elliptical poems make space for the unknown and unknowable, even as they vividly summon the tangible body of the world. Shot through with sudden glimpses of violence and beauty, Sahar Muradi's poems refuse us comfort or closure. They offer only what is-yet, paradoxically, haunt us with the sense that we're standing on holy ground."-Joan Larkin
"I get the sense reading Sahar Muradi's richly layered and quietly transformative poems that what's there is all that has to be there, that the poetry depends on nothing outside of the various shapes it takes, and that complex life conditions and feeling spaces are in a constant dance with certainty and doubt at all points, always on the move. There is an unfettered, inviting, and wryly unconventional voice at work in [ G A T E S ], one capable of making the necessarily enigmatic turns scale demands when distances known and felt on numerous levels have to be closed in on. These poems animate and search through multiple lived-in centers that are real and imagined simultaneously, always open, and always irreducible."-Anselm Berrigan
"If you open Sahar Muradi's [ G A T E S ] and follow each line into the entryways and departures, passed 'convention centers and expos / and festivals that begin at sunset, ' you will witness the poet's memories as tiny explosions of intimacies that devastate with their precision and candor. On images of Ferris wheels and 'prayer on the side of the road, ' the poet 'kneels and spreads [her] picnic' of wonder. Sahar Muradi makes sense of the fragments of memory, the broken buildings of Kabul, Mazar, and Panjsher, the innocence of childhood punctured by journey, a father's illness, losing a language, and the politics of a war uninvited. Muradi beckons you, asks how you 'authored poorer nations with the hope of freeing / others. The architects of what's left.' Indeed the political act of poetry in this fierce collection is a pained beauty that does not look away as it rebuilds the human starting with the heart."-Rajiv Mohabir