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Book Title


Author 1
Solmaz Sharif
Poem Excerpt
I said what I meant
but I said it

in velvet. I said it in feathers.
And so one poet reminded me

Remember what you are to them.

Poodle, I said.

And remember what they are to you.


—from “Patronage”
In Customs, Solmaz Sharif examines what it means to exist in the nowhere of the arrivals terminal, a continual series of checkpoints, officers, searches, and questionings that become a relentless experience of America. With resignation and austerity, these poems trace a pointed indoctrination to the customs of the nation-state and the English language, and the realities they impose upon the imagination, the paces they put us through. While Sharif critiques the culture of performed social skills and poetry itself—its foreclosures, affects, successes—she begins to write her way out to the other side of acceptability and toward freedom.

Customs is a brilliant, excoriating new collection by a poet whose unfolding works are among the groundbreaking literature of our time.

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5.5 x 8.25
The devastating second collection by Solmaz Sharif, author of Look, a finalist for the National Book Award

About the Author

Solmaz  Sharif
Credit: Cassidy Araiza
Solmaz Sharif is the author of a Customs and Look, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and a New York Times Notable Book. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation. Her poetry has appeared in Granta, the New Republic, and Poetry. She is currently the Shirley Shenker Assistant Professor of English at U.C. Berkeley.
More by author


  • “With an anthropological eye, Sharif’s reflections on freedom, consumerism and loyalty are at once witty and incisive. . . . As she masterfully traverses the landscape of exile and all its complicated grief, Sharif manages, with conviction and consistency, to make the reader feel welcome.”—Jessica Gigot, The New York Times Book Review 
  • “Poetry has been a steadfast companion these past years, and a recently published poetry collection I really love is Solmaz Sharif’s Customs. I love the book’s precision and truthfulness and find I continue to turn to it for something like help. The book’s acknowledgments end as follows, with a couple of lines I keep reciting to myself: ‘Thank you, fear. That’s enough now.’”—R. O. Kwon (The Incendiaries), The Cut
  • “Blistering in its clear-sightedness, this collection offers a fierce, beautiful closing that dares to imagine ‘a beckoning, a way.’ A bold and uncompromising book with virtuosic emotional range; highly recommended.”Library Journal, starred review
  • “Sharif demonstrates remarkable talent in her ability to so deftly portray the traumatizing balance required to live in the West with deep roots in Iran.”Michael Ruzicka, Booklist, starred review
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