Moniza Alvi. Courtesy Poetry and Politics.

Moniza Alvi (born 2 February 1954) is an English poet and prose writer.


Alvi was born in Lahore, Pakistan,to a Pakistani father and a British mother. Her family moved to Hatfield, Hertfordshire, in England when she was a few months old.[1] She did not revisit Pakistan until after the publication of one of her first books of poems - The Country at My Shoulder. She worked for several years as a high school teacher, but is now a freelance writer and tutor, living in Norfolk. She and her husband, Robert, have one daughter.

Peacock Luggage, a book of poems by Moniza Alvi and Peter Daniels, was published as a result of the two poets winning together the Poetry Business Prize in 1991, in Alvi's case for 'Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan'.[2] That poem and 'An Unknown Girl' have featured on England's GCSE exam syllabus for young teenagers.

Since then, Moniza Alvi has written four poetry collections. She also published a series of short stories How the Stone Found its Voice (2005), inspired by Kipling's Just So Stories.

In 2003 a selection of her poetry was published in a bilingual Dutch and English edition.[3] A selection from her earlier books, Split World: Poems 1990–2005, was published in 2008.[4]

On 16 January 2014, Alvi participated in the BBC Radio 3 series "The Essay - Letters to a Young Poet". Taking Rainer Maria Rilke's classic text, Letters to a Young Poet as inspiration, leading poets wrote a letter to a protégé.[5]


Alvi says: "'Presents from my Aunts in Pakistan' was one of the first poems I wrote. When I wrote this poem I wasn't actually back in Pakistan. The girl in the poem would be me at about 13. The clothes seem to stick to her in an uncomfortable way, a bit like a kind of false skin, and she thinks things aren't straightforward for her. I found it was important to write the Pakistan poems because I was getting in touch with my background. And maybe there's a bit of a message behind the poems about something I went through, that I want to maybe open a few doors if possible."[6]


The Country at My Shoulder (1993) led to her being selected for the Poetry Society's New Generation Poets promotion.

In 2002 she received a Cholmondeley Award for her poetry.



  • Peacock Luggage (with Peter Daniels). Huddersfield, UK: Smith / Doorstop, 1992.
  • The Country at My Shoulder. Oxford, UK, & New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  • A Bowl of Warm Air. Oxford, UK, & New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Carrying my Wife. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Bloodaxe, 2000. ISBN 978-1-85224-537-5
  • Souls. Tarset, Northumberland, UK: Bloodaxe, 2002. ISBN 978-1-85224-585-6
  • How the Stone Found Its Voice. Tarset, Northumberland, UK: Bloodaxe, 2005. ISBN 978-1-85224-694-5
  • Split World: Poems, 1990-2005. Tarset, Northumberland, UK: Bloodaxe, 2008. ISBN 978-1-85224-802-4
  • Europa. Tarset, Northumberland, UK: Bloodaxe, 2008.
  • At the Time of Partition. . Tarset, Northumberland, UK: Bloodaxe, 2013.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[7]

Audio / videoEdit

An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi

An Unknown Girl by Moniza Alvi

See alsoEdit


  • Sonja Lehmann: Moniza Alvi’s Europa. Rewriting Myth from a Feminist Postcolonial Perspective, in: Verorten - Verhandeln - Verkörpern. Interdisziplinäre Analysen zu Raum und Geschlecht, edited by Silke Förschler, Rebekka Habermas, Nikola Roßbach. Bielefeld, transcript Verlag 2014, pp. 41–60, ISBN 9783839423998


  1. [1]
  2. Sawnet Profile. Accessed March 2016.
  3. Het land aan mijn schouder. Translations by Kees Klok. Sliedrecht: Wagner & Van Santen, 2003. ISBN 90-76569-36-3.
  4. Bloodaxe, ISBN 978-1-85224-802-4
  6. BBC GCSE Bitesize. Accessed March 2016.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Search results = au:Moniza Alvi, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, July 2, 2016.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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