Shazea Quraishi is a writer, tutor and translator who was born in Pakistan and immigrated to Canada before settling in London. In 2012 she published The Courtesan’s Reply, a long poem sequence written in response to Manomohan Ghosh’s translation from Sanskrit of the monologue plays of the Caturbhani, set in the courtesans quarter in India around 300BC. Her poems revisit the plays’ depiction of the women, reimagining their reality and giving them a voice as a counterpoint to the male gaze of the narrator and translator. Her engagement with the 2,000-year old Sanskrit text came from a desire to celebrate the female power of the erotic and eschew colonial framing of the Indian sub-continent.
The Art of Scratching (2015) was followed by The Taxidermist (2020) and The Glimmer (2022), in which a taxidermist meditates on the timespan of life, alongside a polyvocal exploration of the artistic impulse to make work and meaning in a world where value is increasingly monetised.
Quraishi’s work has been anthologised in ‘The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write’ & ‘The Mighty Stream: Poems in Celebration of Martin Luther King’ among others.
An alumna of the Complete Works I, Shazea is a trustee on the Board of English PEN, a tutor at the Poetry School, and artist in residence with Living Words, an arts and literature organisation that works with marginalised people impacted by a dementia or ongoing mental health concerns.