Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Floating Life: A Photo Essay By Moez Surani

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Moez Surani

Moez Surani is the author of the poetry collection Floating Life (Wolsak & Wynn). His work has also appeared in The Walrus and he serves as the Poetry Editor for the Toronto Review of Books.

You can catch Moez reading in person tomorrow, Wednesday, June 13, 2012, as part of the Pivot reading series. The event also features readings from Tamara Faith Berger and Alessandro Porco. Click here for details.

In this special feature, Moez takes Open Book on a tour of his travels and how they impacted his writing process for Floating Life. Read on to hear from Moez in his own words.

By Moez Surani

These are photos I took between 2007-2011 when I did quite a bit of travelling. The poems I wrote during those four years have been recently published in Floating Life. When I was writing these poems, there were many moments of serendipity. Fittingly, in the couple weeks when I was going through my old photos to find some interesting ones the ideas I was coming across in my reading seemed to coincide with the photos I found. So there are seven photos below, as well as the poem from Floating Life that they’re associated with, and for some of them I’ve attached a quote that I feel is also connected with the image. I’m not a photographer; there must be quite a few things in the snapshots below that a real photographer will wince at. But for me these were moments that made me reach for my camera. I hope it’s interesting.

Happy travels, Moez

Greek Exterior

Greek Exterior

Cahiers du cinema: Conversely, would you consider filming a political subject with individual repercussions?
Godard: A political subject is difficult to do. For politics, you need insight into the point of view of four or five different people, and at the same time have a broad overall grasp.
    —   Jean Luc Godard, Godard on Godard



“It’s the Orient that sort of goes — it’s sort of a surrealist or hyperreal Orient or the Orient that we would like to have — even as Orientals! It’s a kind of two way street. It’s not just for Western consumption because it’s consumed by Orientals who want the same glamour and romance, which underlines the case for its totally imaginary status. It doesn’t have any veritic status at all. It’s the fantasies of the imagination.”
    —   Edward Said, The Last Interview



The smile and sunglasses remind me of glamour — and Berger’s take on glamour.

“Glamour cannot exist without personal social envy being a common and widespread emotion. The industrial society which has moved towards democracy and then stopped half way is the ideal society for generating such emotion.”
    —   John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Narration of a Scroll

Narration of a Scroll

“When I look at things, I always see the space they occupy. I always want the space to reappear, to make a comeback, because it’s lost space when there’s something in it. If I see a chair in a beautiful space, no matter how beautiful the chair is, it can never be as beautiful to me as the plain space.”
    —   Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Bicycling with Thembelani (from “Pastorals”)

Bicycling with Thembelani

Thembelani Ngenelwa, author of the wonderful memoir, The Day I Died. It was fun racing (and often losing) to him in the Swiss hills.

"I hadn't found a job, instead my body was covered with bullet wounds that were still healing. I couldn't bend, I couldn't speak properly, I couldn't walk walk fast, I couldn't even bathe myself. I had tears in my eyes and nothing in my pockets. But I was still breathing. I still
had life."

    —   Thembelani Ngenelwa, The Day I Died

Hours after “Bombay Morning”

Bombay Morning

The place my uncle said he liked the most: the English bandstand, Bombay.

Parisian Graffiti

Parisian Graffiti

“Two people kissing always look like a fish.”
    —   Andy Warhol, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

Moez Surani's poetry and prose has been included in numerous anthologies and literary journals, including The Literary Review of Canada and The Walrus. He has won a Chalmers Arts Fellowship, the Kingston Literary Award and the Antigonish Review’s Great Blue Heron Poetry Contest. He has published two poetry collections: Reticent Bodies (2009) and Floating Life (2012).

For more information about Floating Life please visit the Wolsak & Wynn website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

Related item from our archives

JF Robitaille: Minor Dedications


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