How Beautiful People Are

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* Longlisted for the Raymond Souster Award 2023

In How Beautiful People Are, his third collection, Ayaz Pirani continues to write his people’s pothi: a trans-national, inter-generational poetry of post-colonial love and loss animated by the syncretizing figure of Kabir and drawn from the extraordinary diwan of ginan and granth literature. Walking alongside the tiger of Ali and an assortment of beloved infidels, Ayaz uncovers just How Beautiful People Are. After all, what will darkness do, his poems ask, when a true guru makes light?

"I could read Ayaz Pirani’s new book, How Beautiful People Are, pretty much forever. This book of poems uses repetition and cyclical structures beautifully to return again and again to the question of how to attend to beauty and kindness in a harsh world." – Tanis MacDonald for The Fiddlehead

"The poems are an offering of ancestral and interpersonal geography, where each poem is an opportunity for a reader to hold the compass of a mystic and to discover a path." – Maureen Alsop for Compulsive Reader

"The sign of a truly magnificent book is always its endless capacity to grow, and considering Pirani’s metaphysical expanse of ideology (or resistance towards ideology), I foresee myself re-reading these works over and over again over the years." – Khashayar Mohammadi for ARC Poetry

"How Beautiful People Are is a mosaic of experiences, memories and tradition where these facets of being interplay. It’s a quick read that’ll leave you asking questions about origin and humanity, and a sense of comfort in not having all the answers." – Rukhsar Ali, for The Globe and Mail.

"These pensive poems sparkle with observed life." – Barb Carey, for The Toronto Star

"This collection is a testament to the vulnerability that categorically recognizes each one of us as tragically and beautifully human." – Suha Tariq  for The Ampersand Review

"Pirani’s work depicts vividly for readers haunting images of a people plastered thin across multiple geopolitical sites.... People are made beautiful despite the inter-generational, cross-cultural chains meant to stunt their inherent beauty." – Linzey Corridon, for Hamilton Arts & Letters

The collection "allows for the mutability and durability of the lyric; an exploration that understands the simplicity and the complexity of the first-person narrative line, and the underlying song that the lyric itself requires." – rob mclennan

"With recursive metaphors and motifs that build an immersive diorama, the poems in Ayaz Pirani’s How Beautiful People Are add to themselves and the reader as the pothi progresses. Pirani dexterously yet delicately handles the business of nostalgia, place / displacement, and belonging. Through several incarnations of Wittgenstein’s broom, and with echoes of the verse of Kabir Das, we are introduced to a world of blowdryer armies, car forests, corner lamps, companion sand grains, and suit assemblies where inanimate objects reveal intricacies of this representative universe through their configurations and rearrangements. Just like a broom, or its constituent parts, may mean different things depending on what it is being used for, Pirani uses the prism of language to refract the many possible meanings or locations of home. The speaker of these poems says they are “Not stitched to this place or any place,” and though “There’s no road to [their] village,” and they are not at rest in the world, they are at home in observation." – Tolu Oloruntoba, author of Each One a Furnace