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Review | Songs from Under the River By Anis Mojgani

Posted by Rebecca G. Aguilar, M.Ed. on June 7, 2013

Songs from Under the River by Anis Mojgani

ISBN-13: 9781938912245
Publisher: Write Bloody Publishing
Publication date: 4/1/13
Pages: 100

Bonafide poetry is worth hearing aloud.

International World Cup Poetry Slam champion and author of Over the Anvil We Stretch and The Feather Room, Anis Mojgani shares a sanguine collection of his past work in Songs from Under the River from indie publisher Write Bloody.

A New Orleans native now living in Austin,Texas, Mojgani has hopes that someone cares about reading what he calls his youthful “poetic rambling.” I assure you, he has never rambled. Mojgani’s freeform verse exhibits an energy that beckons and resonates; that works on the page as well as through the listening holes.

Mojgani’s popularity with slam audiences is evident in a performance of Shake the Dust, a YouTube video which has accumulated a respectable number of hits. An upbeat drive to express his art came from performing at Slam readings, which also tuned Mojgani’s ear for what affects audiences or not.

Shake the Dust is a fierce ode for “the 2-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-God.”

Not just another poem, like just another night, that sits heavy above us all. Walk into it, breath it in. Let it crawl through the halls of your arms, like the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood, pumping and pushing, making you live, shaking the dust. So when the world knocks at your door, clutch the knob tightly and open on up. And run forward. Run forward as fast and as far as you must. Run into its widespread greeting arms with your hands outstretched before you, fingertips trembling though they may be.

Mojgani has no qualms about running forward fast in “Galumpf Deez Nuts… Galumpf Deez Nuts Spines Shoulders & Collarbones of Mine”:

at the corner of Central Park East and 63rd Street

I clutch an imaginary football like a small child

stand two inches in front of a yellow wall

and scream directly into the wall’s bricks


Mojgani manifests some visual gems in “Peacocks”:

Those pillars of poetry and beauty that held up Shiraz, city of mighty domes that cut stars down and named them, before melting that silver down into petty bullets and thin wires to tighten like knuckles around throats that stood thick like prayers, spines standing straight as rifles, offering the echoes of themselves into the heavens.

Listen for the celebration of the ordinary in “Parade Day”:

that is the same pulse of the forest

sections of this universe that moved through space

until it found something soft to move through

bits of paper broken and torn

from larger sheets

curved and curling in the wind

And a call for poets to contemplate their true vocation in “The Fisherman”:

So he reads to them—

he reads to them about things none of them will ever see.

About flowers opening.

About birds large as cliffs

holding heroes between their silver feathers,

carrying these warriors into the open grace of the gods,

and into a mighty providence that this fisherman stands inside of,

their shields and shoulders polished hard enough

to blind the sun right back.

Songs from Under the River by Anis Mojgani is a highly worthwhile read of collected verse from a Slam champ with a highly tuned ear for what works.

Category: Nonfiction, Poetry

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