Shazia Hafiz Ramji’s writing received a Critic's Desk Award from ARC Poetry magazine and was shortlisted for the 2023 Alberta Magazine Awards. Her fiction has appeared in The Malahat Review and her poetry has appeared in the 2022 Montreal International Poetry Prize anthology. She grew up in England, Kenya, the UAE, and in Coquitlam and East Vancouver, BC. Shazia is the author of Port of Being and is at work on a novel.
"Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge was one of my favourites in high school. It was so dark and strange and neverending. It gave me a headache but I couldn't stop thinking about it before I went to sleep. I also really liked William Wordsworth and Sylvia Plath when I was a teenager. I remember repeatedly getting goosebumps every time I read the Verse of Light from the Qur'an.
It's hard to tell when I first started thinking of myself as a poet. The logical answer would be around 2012, when CV2 Magazine gave me my first publication, but I remember thinking of myself as a poet when I was younger and used to write poems about nature and animals. Thinking about myself as a poet when I was younger made me feel like a badass about being a total softie and seemingly noticing every cute and ugly creature in the world.
I'm not sure how I began writing, but I constantly remember writing when I was young, even though I didn't think of it as "writing" at the time. I remember writing stories between sets of racing games on my first computer and writing poems in front of the TV. I used to love animals, like many kids, and I remember being overwhelmed by beautiful and sad things, which moved me to write. I think my urge to write poetry really came out in making lists. When I was quite young, we had to move houses frequently and whenever we made any moves or trips, I felt this overwhelming urge to write down what everybody had packed, so I would write things like, "one pair of Nike socks with hole in left toe." It might sound strange, but when I write poetry I feel very similar to how I felt making those lists. I feel like I'm always trying to save something and make it last longer in a poem.
A poet's job is the same as everybody else's job: to live fully and deeply, and to teach yourself and others how to live.
"Poem of Failed Amends" was written during my recovery from addiction. One of the steps in the recovery process is to reconnect with people you lost contact with while you were using drugs and to make amends with anyone you may have hurt in the past. I wrote this poem to figure out why I felt grateful even after my amends didn't go well. It was a clarifying, surprising poem. I hope the poem speaks for itself.
"Happy Birthday Moon" by Raymond Antrobus.