Salford PhD student featured in prestigious poetry collection

Categories: School of Arts, Media and Creative Technology

A Salford PhD student is featured in the latest edition of the UK’s most prestigious poetry collection.

Qudsia Akhtar, a third-year PhD Creative Writing student, has had her satirical piece ‘My Dad is A Terrorist’ highly commended by the renowned Forward Prizes panel and is featured in The Forward Book of Poetry 2023.

The Forward Prizes are highly regarded awards for new poetry published in the UK and Ireland and its annual collection is regarded as the definitive platform for British poetry talent.

Qudsia’s poem sketches the overly suspicious perception of the male Muslim identity in a post-terror landscape.

She said: “I knew about the Forward Prizes and was aware of the calibre of poetry that they publish, so I was ecstatically happy when I heard that I was going to be featured.

“As a writer you are constantly questioning whether your work is any good, so it was a lovely feeling to see that it was highly commended and to have it included in a collection full of such wonderful poets.

The piece itself is quite personal to me as it is about my dad and my own experience of growing up and hearing all the stereotypes that you hear about Muslims in Britain. I wanted to address it in a playful way which made fun of these stereotypes and showed it from my perspective as someone who is trying to explore their own identity.”

It was first printed in The Ofi Press, an online literary magazine that promotes poetry, fiction and essays from contemporary poets and writers across the world and was later included in Qudsia’s debut poetry collection Khamosi.

The collection, the title of which means ‘silence’ in Urdu, traces the complexities of living as a British-Pakistani writer and tackles the broader historical perspectives of the trauma of partition and the experiences of racism and sexism.

Qudsia’s poetry has also been featured in a variety of other literary publications such as Acumen, Tower Poetry Anthology and the Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal.

She previously studied English and Creative Writing at the university as both an undergraduate and master’s student, and is currently writing her second poetry collection, which she hopes to publish alongside completing her PhD thesis next year.

Qudsia’s PhD supervisor at Salford, Professor Scott Thurston, said: “We are absolutely delighted to hear of Qudsia’s most recent success as her career continues to go from strength to strength. Some of her undergraduate poems went on to be included in her first collection, but the level of recognition afforded by Forward takes things to another level.

“It’s wonderful that Qudsia continues to embody the vocation of the poet as celebrated by one of her favourite writers, Muhammed Iqbal, who saw the task of the poet as to ‘create beauty in that which is ugly and strange’ and ultimately to ‘make life develop itself’. We are excited to see what she does next!”

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