What does it mean to feel at home? In his groundbreaking debut collection Exit Wounds, Indo-Canadian poet Tariq Malik weaves together history and myth with his own family’s experiences of immigration to uncover what it truly means to belong. Whether he is recalling his childhood memories of the death of his father, imaging himself as a dead soldier lost in the sands of the Kuwaiti desert, or drawing upon his family’s experience of ‘three wars and migrations,’ Malik’s moving search for home will resonate with anyone who has ever felt at odds with a dominant monoculture.
Malik’s poetry combines traditional Punjabi mythology and First Nations’ symbolism with contemporary events that have shaped the lives of immigrants: 9/11, RCMP violence, war. The result is a defiant triumph of the plurality of minority experiences—a poetic chorus of immigrants and their descendants coming home to the truth and power of their many worlds.
“Reading Exit Wounds is an experience akin to traversing, wine in hand, landscapes of oceans and mountains, cities and towns—meeting people, sweating in the heat. The poet is a wanderer compelled by the longing for home, the passion to belong. To belong without question. Without proof. To exercise one’s own free will to arrive in a place or to leave as the heart desires. In this witnessing of a lifetime, the poet has wandered in and out of the tribulations of migration and refuge; now, he calmly but forcefully thumps the ground—to shake it a bit, yes, but also to know if it is now firm below his feet. Neither a lament for the loss of a homeland in the East nor an ode to the attainment of safe havens in the West, these poems are sign posts marking the persistent intersections of race, colonization, culture, and art in the experiential realms of human consciousness and emotion.”
—Fauzia Rafique, author of Skeena, The Adventures of SahebaN, and, co-founder of Surrey Muse