I cannot be good until you say it

I cannot be good until you say it


The much-anticipated debut collection by the winner of the Outspoken Performance Poetry Prize: a tender meditation on queerness and Islam

'Dissolving whatever boundaries would wall us off from love, Ahsan finds a way to let it all be holy' Victoria Adukwei-Bulley

'When I speak of the word "sacred", Sanah Ahsan's I cannot be good until you say it will forever instantly spring to mind... A masterpiece - an honour to have read this book, I am forever changed after reading its beauty' Nikita Gill

'Innovative and deeply compassionate ... multilingual verse suffused with a vital musicality and a palpable tenderness, Ahsan calls poetry into prayer and evokes a faith safe enough to be mothered by' Mary Jean Chan

Intricately weaving Quranic verse, psychology, and the hip-hop soundtrack of their childhood, Sanah’s poems reach for divinity in the body; an archive that refuses erasure.

These poems traverse unruly emotional and physical landscapes, Whiteness, islamophobia, homophobia, intergenerational suffering, and the politics of therapeutic processes. In these pages, belief and unbelief, goodness and badness, the material and spiritual are intertwined, reclaiming queer love and desire as holy. How are we incarcerated by others’ gazes? Who gets to be good in a society built upon hierarchy? How might we embrace each other’s madnesses? Sanah Ahsan asks questions that travel to the heart of our humanness, bending the lines between psychologist and client to show us the sacred nature of our wounds.

These poems kneel to the messiness of being alive, building altars to complication and presence. Refusing binaries of gender or religious doctrine, I cannot be good until you say it finds what is to be revered in the grey spaces of morality, advancing imagination and self-compassion as sites of communion. This debut collection is a call to prayer, fearlessly complicating what is good, and what is god.

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