Quotes about Afshan’s work:
Next up was “lesborist” (that’s lesbian terrorist, apparently) Afshan D’souza-Lodhi, whose explosive poems smash stereotypes of Muslim queerness and female homosexuality. “I probably think too much about tits to be a really good terrorist,” she states. We are lured into her world with an unflinchingly frank articulation about her seemingly immovable position of being viewed as a Muslim, a woman and a queer person by a Western, white, straight, male lens. I found her set refreshing and enjoyed the moments where faith, sexuality and gender intersected. Exploring the relationship between love and language, Afshan’s poems dug their own trenches to where we found new, fertile earth, even though there may not be the words – or perhaps not enough of them – to articulate our complicated, nuanced identities.
The first act sees Afshan D’souza-Lodhi – a queer Muslim writer from Manchester – take to the stage.
Using spoken poetry, Afshan draws her audience in with her debut collection On Desire.
‘Lesbreast’ (Lesbian Terrorist), as she calls herself, brings issues of gender, religion and sex to the forefront of her performance. Weaving anecdotes from her teenage years into her performance, Afshan has no problem making the audience giggle. With her clever words and the tone, power and conviction of her voice, she is completely captivating.
Afshan D’Souza Lodhi then steps onto the stage with an apology, tonight she does have her usual attire and prop for her performance poem, Lesbian Terrorist. For those wondering, she usually has a niqab and a vibrator. Afshan’s poetry is at times touching and hilarious and is deeply insightful into hidden cultures. This is especially expressed in Mother Tongue, where she decries the loss of little spoken languages.
Next to follow was Afshan D’souza Lodhi, a poet known for her bold, impassioned performance and who, though born in Dubai, has spent the majority of her life in Manchester.
Lodhi’s poetry brought rawness and relevance to the evening as she explained to the audience her feelings following Valentine’s Day and her decision to read a poem which expressed the word for ‘lover’ in different languages, arranged as if in alphabetical order.
She also discussed her profound stance in her poetic expression and themes which consider both sex and religion, the poet having previously performed dressed in a burka with a vibrator in her hand. She described being asked by her own mother. “Why do you keep writing about sex? Why don’t you write about me?” The result was the piece ‘Mother Tongue’, performed to great applause.
Speaking to Humanity Hallows, Lodhi said how much she enjoyed the evening: “Brilliant… I’ve not performed in a headscarf in 5 years. It’s lovely to perform and get warm responses.”
Afshan D’Souza-Lodhi – With an extremely impressive bio behind Afshan I’m sure this is a person who will become very well known in the mainstream. The most comfortable in front of the audience and the person who put the audience at ease by breaking the hushed tension before the performance with a Mexican wave. D’Souza-Lodhi’s words were clear and spoke very moving personal truths. I greatly enjoyed listening especially to her ‘Mother’ poem, to hear a poet speak in their own voice, especially when it slides between languages adds a wonderful appreciation to hearing the artistes work.
Performers were Afshan D’Souza-Lodhi, whose narrative and monologues were fantastically delivered with, at times, a touch of deflating humour. The line “sitting on the table, sipping Shloer”, is one that will stay with me forever.
In the second act, I fell in love with Afshan De’Souza-Lodhi. Although she occasionally seemed a little nervous at first, once she got started it was clear her gift as a writer is undeniable. When exploring both her Muslim and lesbian identity through her poetry, she reveals her fear of losing touch with her culture as her mother’s native tongue is slowly eradicated through submitting to the colonising English language and that she will eventually discover the lube in Afshan’s bedside draw isn’t actually a moisturising hand lotion. My only critique is that her set was a little bit short, I would have loved to see what she could deliver if she was given some more time to fill.