In this remarkable debut the poet, whose own family were displaced from Lebanon, has achieved a work of empathy with women from other cultures and now living in the East End. It brings to life longed-for homelands and sings of loss as well as adjustment to Britain.
It filled me with a desire to see the community needlework from which it sprang. CAROLE BROMLEY
Contemporary poetry often favours the confessional over the communal, but here we have the hybrid benefits of the communal in confessional mode. Migrant communities, in particular, should be squarely on the cultural menu, and it’s refreshing for so many untold stories to arrive at table fully voiced. Abi-Ezzi’s poems are aswarm with the details (artefacts, clothing, pigments, names, foods) that backdrop human displacement; she highlights the rich tenacities of a world that, for all its fragility and transience, can be made fuller and more included. MARIO PETRUCCI
ABOUT THE COLLECTION
Needle Around Her Neck was produced as part of Traces: Stories of Migration, a community art project based in East London that explored personal and family migration stories through the medium of textile crafts. Set within the cultural and historical context of the migrant history of the East End’s Rag Trade, participants created visual narratives of their journeys as textile artworks.
While these were largely stories of migration, they also included life journeys: journeys of motherhood, of discovery, of reconciliation, of movement from one state of being to another. It was conversations with participants about these topics that fired Abi-Ezzi’s imagination.