The latest poetry and artwork collection from Hana Shafi examines the everyday connections we make to the people and places we encounter. Despite the infinite variations of our lives, every urban dweller has sparred with a neighbour they disliked, seen beautiful strangers on public transit, told secrets to their hairdresser. We interact with these supporting characters on a daily basis—and often we are them for others.
Shafi celebrates the Antiheroes of the world (the alcoholic at your local bar, teenage girls); examines those in Beautiful Leading Roles (the hot professor, the rich couple); lauds older generations of Wizards and Crones; and flags the Nemeses (men who think they’re allies, competitors for produce at farmer’s markets). We sink into recognition at depictions of Palaces such as the greasy spoon, Dungeons of public transit, and the Liminal Spaces of checkout counters or waiting rooms (including that one at the end of the cosmos).
People You Know, Places You’ve Been is an insightful, charming collection that offers a sense of shared recognition and nostalgia, ultimately asking: what if seemingly mundane places are actually the foundations of who you are?
Praise for People You Know, Places You’ve Been:
“People You Know, Places You’ve Been is a spellbinding collection of poems and drawings that thoughtfully describes the discomfort and beauty of everyday life. Shafi skillfully pairs humour and tenderness to depict familiar people and places through a lens of nostalgia, rage, and feminist thought.” —Ambivalently Yours, author of Fire and Other Feelings
“People You Know, Places You’ve Been is a touching and engaging collection of everyday moments and connections seen through the viewfinder of Hana Shafi’s glorious and immensely creative mind. A joy to read.” —Farzana Doctor, author of You Still Look the Same
“People You Know, Places You’ve Been brings ‘little signs of magic in such / an un-whimsical world.’ In this collection of poetry and visual art, hazy telephone poles against sky-rise buildings are a sight of beauty, a diner down the road has the best breakfast, and a subway commute is a scene from a movie. You are the main character in a world full of encounters with antiheroes, supporting characters, and nemeses. From aunties to teenage couples in vacation towns to hot professors, each moment makes life more alive. Shafi’s words guide us to ‘romanticize your ugly life’ and to ‘think of small blessings / as grand gestures.’ In this collection, and the world Shafi creates, ‘loving you is so wonderfully easy.’” —Manahil Bandukwala, author of MONUMENT
The 2023 TMU Alumni Book List: 24 buzzworthy books authored by alumni —TMU Alumni News
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