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Nafeesa Hamid

Nafeesa Hamid

Nafeesa Hamid is a British Pakistani poet and playwright based in Birmingham. Her work covers taboo themes such as sex, domestic violence and mental health, using personal experience as a basis for her writing.

Nafeesa has been writing and performing for 6 years at nights around the UK. She has featured at Outspoken (London), Poetry is Dead Good (Nottingham), Find the Right Words (Leicester) and Hit The Ode (Birmingham). She was invited to perform at TedxBrum 2016 (Power of Us).

Nafeesa Hamid

Nafeesa has also performed at Cheltenham and Manchester Literature Festivals as part of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a recent (2017) anthology publication by Saqi Books, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. She is an alumni of Mouthy Poets and Derby Theatre Graduate Associate Artists. She runs Twisted Tongues, an open-mic only poetry night at The Station in Kings Heath.

About Besharam: Learning that your mind and body have been taken hostage is one thing. Learning how to take them back is another. What if those that are returned are different to the ones that were lost?

Cover of Besharam

Besharam – Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming.

As she treads the shifting line between woman and daughter, between Pakistan and the West, between conservative Islam and liberal, Nafeesa has almost had to find a new language to try to communicate the difficulties of her situation. And what a language! At times hard and pointed, at other times wonderfully and colourfully evocative, erupting with 

femininity, empowerment and rebellion. It is this language that makes Besharam such a pleasure to read in spite of the pain it contains – Besharam really is a magical first book of poetry

About Nafeesa and Besharam … 

‘Besharam is an outstanding collection from Nafeesa… I think her poems are very special.’ – Imtiaz Dharker

‘Love this collection and finding it deeply affecting. The fearlessness is astonishing. Bravo!’ – Roz Goddard

‘One of the best readings we’ve ever had in the shop challenging sexism, domestic violence and claiming autonomy for woman.’ Five Leaves Bookshop, Nottm.

‘I highly, highly recommend pre-ordering [Nafeesa’s] first book of poetry – Besharam – as this writer resonates on a whole other level.’ – Pam Reader

Nafeesa preparing to read - Five Leaves, Nottm by Anne Holloway of Big White Shed.

‘Yesterday I read and was deeply moved by NafeesaHamid’s debut, Besharam. Thank you Nafeesa for articulating so deftly and elegantly such complex material. I know I’ll return to this book often. And big up VervePoetryPresS for publishing this important work.’ – Ruby Robinson

‘You know those times you pick up a poetry collection and read right the way through because every page is a grenade? … Besharam is powerful, rebellious, tender and bold. I could not put this ‘woman’ down.’ – Hafsah Aneela Bashir

‘I love Nafeesa’s vibrant, original and refreshingly original poems.’ – Josephine Corcoran

Sample Poem from Nafeesa

How to tell your parents you’re dating a white atheist

  1. Reassure them you are still Muslim.

  2. Wait for their bodies to relax.

  3. Wait for their faces to tense up as they realise the coming-out is still to come.

  4. Don’t tell them you’ve been dating for however many years.

  5. Leave the exit doors open. Wide open.

  6. Do not try and explain atheism to them.

  7. Do not expect them to smile.

  8. Do not try and touch them.

  9. Do offer them a helpline.

  10. Hardest blow first – “He’s an atheist.”

  11. Do not try and explain atheism.

  12. Carry on – “He’s a white atheist. He’s white. A white atheist. White. Atheist. Atheist.

  13. Hopefully, they will have understood by now.

  14. Imagine various scenarios where they hug you with you relief and declare through sweaty brows, “Gosh, phew! At least it’s not…”

  15. In reality your dad is the one that is crying and your mother is threatening to bury both you and her honour in the back yard.

  16. If you are the reason for your father’s first heart attack, turn to God and apologise profusely.

  17. Maybe don’t tell your parents.