The islands of an archipelago are isolated above sea level but attached underwater; connected yet separate. archipelago, the debut poetry collection from Laila Malik, traces fragments of family, becoming and unbecoming against the shifting shorelines of loss, multigenerational migration, and (un)belonging.
Malik’s lyrical poems intertwine histories of exile and ecological devastation. Beginning with a coming of age in the 80s and 90s between Canada, the Arabian Gulf, East Africa and Kashmir, they subvert conventions of lineage, instead drawing on the truths of inter-ethnic histories amidst sparse landscapes of deserts, oceans, and mountains. They question why the only certainties of “home” are urgency and impossibility.
At its core, archipelago is a letter to the daughters who come before and after, a quiet disclosure of barbed ancestral legacies that only come into focus through poetry.