The Emma Press Signs Rakhshan Rizwan’s Debut Poetry Collection
The Emma Press has signed Pakistani poet and academic Rakhshan Rizwan’s debut poetry collection. Emma Dai’an Wright, executive editor of The Emma Press, acquired world rights in the English language to Europe, Love Me Back. It will publish on 6th October 2022.
Rizwan is a winner of the Judith Khan Memorial Prize for Poetry and her debut pamphlet Paisley, also published by The Emma Press, was shortlisted in the Michael Marks Awards in 2012. Europe, Love Me Back will be her debut collection, and is the first full-length poetry collection for adults to be published by The Emma Press.
Europe, Love Me Back is an angry love letter to a place left behind yet always there, continuing to matter and hurt and shape the poet’s identity. Poems titled ‘My house is becoming like my country’, ‘Passport Skin’, and ‘A Man Speaking Urdu on the train and everyone turning to look at him’ are just a few of the ‘love letters’ that Rizwan sends her readers.
“But no one was interested in eliciting my testimony.
After all, I wasn’t dead – I wasn’t ill –
and hadn’t this country treated me so well?
For it is not a human right to be much more than
Agamben’s bare life,From ‘Adjunct’, by Rakhshan Rizwan, in Europe, Love Me Back
to exist in the hallowed halls of the academe,
because there comes a point when our wanting
is simply too much, obscene.”
The collection is comprised of questing, sharply satirical poems about the poet’s fraught relationship with Europe. Hurting, yet clear-eyed, Rizwan explores and exposes what it means to be a small, brown woman in Dutch suburbs, hospitals and academia.
Wright said: “I am such a fan of Rakhshan’s writing. It’s substantial and compelling, and mixes heart-breaking stuff with amazing turns of phrase. It’s not surprising that her latest manuscript made me break my vow from when I started The Emma Press, never to publish full-length poetry collections. I will always want to read more by Rakhshan, and this book gives the reader the chance to spend a really good stint with her brilliant mind and poetry.”
Rizwan added: “This collection came from a desire to capture the complexity of my relationship with Europe, which wavers between a sense of deep belonging and alienation, and these feelings alternate creating an emotional landscape that is hopefully familiar to many immigrants. The title of the book – Europe, Love Me Back – is intentionally desperate-sounding, wanting to come on too strong and make the recipient of this obsession uncomfortable. It is both a plaintive cry and a stern command to be unconditionally loved by a continent that is not always kind to its Muslim citizenry.
“I hope this collection will open up space for other BIPOC and South Asian writers, particularly in the non-Anglophone part of Europe to articulate their experiences and to start to take up space. I thank the wonderful Emma Press team for helping to carefully shepherd this book into the world and for creating this vital platform for marginalized voices to find an audience.”
Europe, Love Me Back
Publishing 6th October 2022
About the author
Rakhshan Rizwan won the Judith Khan Memorial Prize for Poetry in 2015 and
her debut pamphlet Paisley (Emma Press, 2017) was shortlisted in the Michael
Marks Awards. She is the author of Kashmiri Life Narratives (Routledge, 2020),
which explores the intersections between human rights and literature in the
Valley of Kashmir. She is originally from Pakistan but has lived in Germany, the
Netherlands and currently lives in the Bay Area in the United States.