Mimi Khalvati

Mimi Khalvati was a co-winner with David Morley of the 1989 Book & Pamphlet Competition with Persian Miniatures.

Since then, she has published eight collections with Carcanet Press, including The Meanest Flower (2007), which was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation, a Financial Times Book of the Year and shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize. Her collection, Child: New and Selected Poems 1991-2011 was a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation and her most recent book, The Weather Wheel (2014), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and a Book of the Year in The Independent.

Mimi is the founder of The Poetry School, where she teaches, and co-editor of three anthologies of new writing from The Poetry School published by Enitharmon Press.  She has held fellowships with the Royal Literary Fund, the International Writing Program in Iowa and was Poet in Residence at The Royal Mail. Her awards include a Cholmondeley Award from the Society of Authors, a major Arts Council Award and she is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Mimi returned to Smith|Doorstop in 2013 with her pamphlet Earthshine, which was named PBS Summer Pamphlet Choice. In 2018 her pamphlet Very Selected Poems has been published through Smith/Doorstop.


'In classic elegy, the lost beloved returns in the form of a spirit that quickens the natural world.  So it is here, in a sequence of engraved vignettes drawn from a verse memoir that dispenses with extraneous facts. In their place, we find intimist renderings of interiors recalling Vuillard, observations of weather, sunlight, and the astronomical realm, and the surprises and questions occasioned by travel. Like a naturalist, but with a poet’s lexicon, Khalvati lovingly observes plants and animals, the smaller mammals and birds given center stage. These warm-blooded species, with their delicacy, their fur and feathers, are, as slowly becomes apparent, a healing replacement for the deceased mother.  In the wake of that death, as she reconceives her life on earth, Khalvati is also reinventing poetry.' — Alfred Corn  


Mimi Khalvati reads 'Ghazal'


Under the giant planes beside the gate where we said goodbye,
the one bare trunk where squirrels flatten themselves on bark

side by side with a voluminous plane whose ivy outraces branch,
under the two great planes where we stood vaguely looking round

since it was a clear night, the street empty and we, small gaggle,
newly intimate but standing a yard apart, keeping our voices low

though they carried bright as bells as we counted the evening out,
gestured towards the cars, deciding who would go with who

and gradually splitting off, under the planes with the squirrel dreys
hidden in all that ivy, but hanging low directly above the station,

there, where we looked pointing, like an Oriental illustration
of Arabian Nights, lay the old moon in the new moon’s arms:

earthshine on the moon’s night side, on the moon’s dark limb,
earthlight, our light, our gift to the moon reflected back to us

and the duty we owe our elders as the Romans owed their Gods
– duties they called pietàs, we call pity – shone in the moon’s pietà.

— from Earthshine (smith|doorstop, 2013)

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