ILX10: Marjorie Lotfi

Meet Marjorie Lotfi, a rising star of UK writing.

Marjorie Lotfi was born in New Orleans, moved to Tehran as a baby with her American mother and Persian father, and fled Iran during the Iranian Revolution. She settled in the UK in 1999, and now lives in Edinburgh. She was joint winner of the inaugural James Berry Poetry Prize in 2021, and her first book-length collection, The Wrong Person to Ask (Bloodaxe Books, 2023), is a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation.  Marjorie also is a Co-Founder and Director of the charity Open Book. 

Twitter/X @marjorielotfi

Instagram @marjorielotfi 

ILX 10: Rising Stars of UK Writing

The ILX10 is NCW’s selection of ten exciting, dynamic, and thought-provoking early-career writers based in the UK whose work has the powerful potential to speak to and engage with global literary audiences. It forms part of a three-year programme called the International Literature Exchange.

Find out more

Reviews

‘Lotfi’s imagistically rich debut collection moves from her childhood in Iran, where her family were uprooted by the revolution, to her youth in America and her current home in Scotland. Lotfi is sensitively attuned to the painful dislocation of self that can come from moving between different nations. Again and again her radiant language turns over the loss of family intimacy and identity caused by political upheaval and violence … Lotfi’s book mourns these losses and separations, while at the same time rendering the possibilities of a capacious, multifaceted sense of belonging.’ — Rebecca Tamás, Guardian (Best recent poetry roundup)

‘Against this backdrop of rigid political boundaries, Lotfi’s collection is also in intimate conversation with the natural world, a relationship which offers new ways of understanding emplacement beyond ideas of nationhood.’ — Andrés Ordorica, The Skinny

‘Marjorie Lotfi’s first full-length collection, The Wrong Person to Ask is a clear-eyed, sometimes productively reticent debut, and was one of three winners of the James Berry Poetry prize… Lotfi is a quiet and faithful witness. There is no self-indulgent introspection. She insists on seeing what she sees.’ — Carol Rumens, Guardian (Poem of the Week)

Writers I admire

John Glenday, Sharon Olds, Philip Levine

How is community reflected in your work?

If asked why I write, I might say that I want to document the experiences of children living through displacement, and the after-effects of those early experiences on a lifetime lived in apparent safety. I’m drawn to the personal stories of family across multiple generations and continents, to the fabric of life post-migration, even post-exile.  

But how is community reflected in my work? Writing is a way to re-define community, bind myself to a group of people I’ve been separated from for many years, as well as an opportunity to connect myself to those around me who also live away from their ‘homeland’. Sometimes that exploration comes at a cost, especially when you’re ‘from’ more than one place and don’t neatly fit within any community. Writing for me involves re-drawing those boundaries of community, weaving together what I’ve carried, acquired, and created for myself along the way. 

Of course, writing isn’t entirely one-sided, it’s also an invitation to a reader to join in and ask themselves the same questions. However unfamiliar the experiences or the lives depicted, ultimately, I hope a reader will find something of themselves in my words.

The International Literature Exchange is a programme from National Centre for Writing, supported by the British Council and Arts Council England.

 

You may also like...

ILX10: Ayanna Lloyd Banwo

Calendar

6th June 2024

ILX10
Read

ILX10: Derek Owusu

Calendar

6th June 2024

ILX10
Read

ILX10: Lynsey May

Calendar

6th June 2024

ILX10
Read