One of Jackie Kay’s selected writers for the International Literature Showcase
“His poems are precise, startling in their originality, full of grace. Kunial traces the roots in language to then track the roots in his mixed-race identity, effortlessly transporting the reader from one place to another.”
– Jackie Kay
Subtle poet whose writing addresses language, family, heritage, nature and time.
Published by Faber & Faber, Zaffar Kunial’s debut book — Us (2018) — was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Poetry Award and the Rathbones Folio Prize, and was a Poetry Book Society Wild Card Choice. Born in Birmingham to a Kashmiri father and an English mother, Zaffar has been a poet in residence for the Wordsworth Trust and the Bronte Parsonage. He wrote an essay on trees in Arboreal (Little Toller) and his title poem ‘Us’ appears at the end of Carol Ann Duffy’s chronological anthology of British poetry, The Map and the Clock (Faber & Faber).
‘Zaffar Kunial possesses that rare quality of negative capability which Keats first identified in Shakespeare (a guiding spirit in this, Kunial’s first collection); the poems hold us among mysteries and doubts, without pronouncing or attempting to resolve. Their beauty lies in their indecisiveness – their quiet refusal to settle matters or hold to a single view.’ – Rebecca Watts, The Times Literary Supplement
‘Highlights of the year include the Heaney-esque lyricism of British-Indian poet Zaffar Kunial’s accomplished debut ‘Us’.’ – Tristram Fane Saunders, Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
‘Rich in form and reverent references, ‘Us’ transports the reader from the hills of Pakistan to the school grounds of Stratford-upon-Avon, from George Herbert to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.’ – Maria Crawford, Financial Times, Books of the Year
‘‘Us’ by Zaffar Kunial abounds with poems which are witty, playful and heartbreaking by turns. Drawn to the place where things don’t quite meet, which he describes as “a kind of abysmal underneathness/or usness/under the heights of language”, his is a wondrous poetic of loopholes, portals and translations, and of the magic in-between.’ – Sinead Morrissey, Chair of the T. S. Eliot Prize judges
I’m grateful to be able to share my work this way, and flattered and glad to be in such great company.
Us, Faber & Faber, 2018
Faber New Poets 11, Faber & Faber, 2014
Essay in Arboreal, Little Toller, 2016