Imagery that Sees–Anis Mojgani’s Songs from Under the River

Have you ever encountered a writer and you thought, “I think we’d be best friends”?

That’s how I feel about Anis Mojgani. I started watching his spoken word performances on Youtube a few years ago, and he mesmerized me. (If you’ve not heard any of the poets that came out of the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC, you’re missing out.)
His poetry has quickly become a standard by which I judge all other poetry, both written and spoken, so naturally I was ecstatic when I finally was able to purchase one of his books of poems.

Songs from Under the River is a book of 36 poems, both old and new to his career as a poet. As many are originally spoken poems, they are often several pages in length with long line lengths and fairly prose-like punctuation.

One that breaks that particular form is “Church” which begins

“In the broken comma of dawn,
I become my father.
I once maybe wanted a house.
A red, wooden one.
With a fence
a hill
a wife.”

In poems such as this one, he simplifies his language, but he still uses it in interesting and almost dream-like ways with the phrase “broken comma of dawn.”

Much of his language is dream-like and highly specific as well, which I really appreciate.

Detail, for me, is probably top of the list when it comes to good writing. (Right under, don’t use the word “heart” in a poem.)

In “In My Library There are 17 Books” he writes:

“I have devoured so many forests.

There is so much cedar wood in my belly.

So much sawdust on the floor of my love.”

First of all, a belly full of cedar wood is probably one of the best images I have ever read. It’s sensory, unique, tender.

I love his writing because it’s confessional, intimate… he makes the reader feel endeared and open, and that is something I would love to be able to do with my writing.

Here’s another example of how stellar he is at writing image, in “The Fisherman:”

“He lights one candle on the table

and peels the skin of his fish with his fork and knife,

peeling it back like a bedsheet.”

A little grotesque, yes, but you could see it, couldn’t you?

I think our written words should seek to make people see, truly see. If we’re not opening literal and metaphorical eyes, what are we doing?

To learn more about his writing, performing, or to read his blog, visit

You won’t regret it.


Read on, write faithful.

Abigail Joy