Feature Friday: It Begins With The Body by Hana Shafi | Book*hug Press

Feature Friday: It Begins With The Body by Hana Shafi

It Begins With The Body by Hana Shafi

In this week’s edition of Feature Friday, we are excited to bring you an except from Hana Shafi’s debut book, It Begins With The Body, a collection that explores the milestones and hurdles of a brown girl coming into her own. Hana’s poems display a raw and frank intimacy and address anxiety, unemployment, heartbreak, relationships, identity, and faith. Accompanied by Hana’s candid illustrations that share the same delightful mixture of grotesque and humour found in her poems, It Begins With The Body navigates the highs and lows of youth.

In praise of It Begins With The Body, co-host of Two Brown Girls podcast Fariha Róisín, calls it “the act of visibility, of being seen through the words on a page that are so life affirming. I feel grateful that I’m of a time where art like this is being made.” Author Lauren McKeon adds that, “Shafi examines all the expectations society places on women—and pushes back against these outrages with a voice that is both vulnerable and damning. A brilliant and incisive book, full of rage and love in all the places where you need it to be.”

We hope you enjoy this excerpt from It Begins With The Body. Enjoy!

From It Begins With The Body:



my chronic self-esteem issues

season my art well

tragically compelling

or just insufferably pathetic


that song by Offspring is my anthem

jagged baggy walk to work

a tired reflection in TTC window


pass out, it’ll be just fine

get the good stuff

feel nice and sick

tell auntie so-and-so

“i’m well”

listen to grunge and wallow


i love to feel for myself

these are the times

to make misery look cool

and sing quietly

your favourite song


remember the pink lockers

or were they mint? whatever

i can’t recall high school


i learned to be a bitch in 2008

richard’s science class those boys

put laughter in this skin like

a splinter under nails

does she think she’s hot?

i don’t i’m quite certain

i’m the ugliest person here

and high school


prank calls for my sweet 16

a special day for

an OK girl, thanks for

laughs and still

high school


we wanted a boyfriend

for four years

made bets on doodles

wishing under our binders

it’s OK, best friend

we had each other

to reminisce

that high school


on the last day we left early

took the bus to the mall

without any goodbyes

thank fuck it’s over

high school blew

see you at the reunion.



Order your copy of It Begins With The Body here.


Credit: Dylan van den Berge

Hana Shafi is a writer and artist who illustrates under the name Frizz Kid. Both her visual art and writing frequently explore themes such as feminism, body politics, racism, and pop culture with an affinity to horror. A graduate of Ryerson University’s Journalism Program, she has published articles in publications such as The Walrus, Hazlitt, This Magazine, Torontoist, Huffington Post, and has been featured on Buzzfeed India, Buzzfeed Canada, CBC, Flare Magazine, Mashable, and Shameless. Known on Instagram for her weekly affirmation series, she is also the recipient of the Women Who Inspire Award, from the Canadian Council for Muslim Women. Born in Dubai, Shafi’s family immigrated to Mississauga, Ontario in 1996, and she currently lives and works in Toronto. It Begins With The Body is her first book.

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