Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Interviews, Recommendations, and More

10 Books on Speculative Pasts and Futures

A recommended reading list by Manahil Bandukwala, whose new book is MONUMENT.


I’ve been a fan of fantasy from a young age. I have pages of plotted out fantasy series and first chapters. None of these ever came to fruition, but my love of the supernatural and fantastical has stayed with me in poetry.

MONUMENT is a collection about re-imagined pasts and visualizations of the future. I didn’t set out to write a collection of speculative poetry, but these are poems where time and space are blurred. When we let go of logical rules of physics and time, what are the surreal ways we look at ourselves and the world around us?

The books on this list are only a fraction of the writing happening around this theme. These poets engage in conversations with themselves, with ancestors, with descendants, with the air, and with the animals, just to name a few. 


Book Cover Saturn Peach

Saturn Peach, by Lily Wang

Lily Wang’s poems are like entering a dream state. There is a softness that is sometimes uplifting, sometimes heartbreaking. To read each poem is to relinquish control, even briefly.


Book Cover Allodynia

Allodynia, by Nisa Malli

Science Fiction meets love poem in Nisa Malli’s debut poetry collection, Allodynia. Malli takes us into space, onto desert planets where we terraform new worlds and inhabit cyborg bodies. The predicted world is no better or worse than now, but just is a world full of grief, love, and hope like ours.


Book Cover But the SUn

But the Sun, and the Ships, and the Fish, and the Waves, by Conyer Clayton

In this collection of dream poems, Conyer Clayton dives straight into the surreal. Go along with the logic of a hedgehog turning into an iPhone and back again, and feel like every moment of life is a dream.


Book Cover My Grief the Sun

My Grief, the Sun, by Sanna Wani

From conversations with Allah to letters from friends, Sanna Wani walks through the world with wonder, delight, and awe. Though the title of the collection speaks of grief, the sun shines through in every poem, reminding us that no matter where we are, we can inhabit a world as expansive as the sky.


Book Cover reminders on the path

Reminders on the Path, by Sheniz Janmohamed

What is it like to have your ancestors speak to you as you walk through life? What are the voices that speak to you, and how do you listen and respond? Read Sheniz Janmohamed’s Reminders on the Path to find out.


Book cover let the world have you

Let the World Have You, by Mikko Harvey

Through conversations with animals, Mikko Harvey concocts a strange and whimsical world. The characters in these worlds are charming: the speaker pretends to be a worm and crushes other worms in the garden, or doesn’t learn a lesson about squandering gemstones. Read this collection for moments of bizarre hilarity and philosophical clarity.


Book Cover Accretion

Accretion, by Irfan Ali

Through the lens of the folktale of Layla and Majnun, Irfan Ali explores madness and love in modern day Toronto. In Accretion, the self falls away and the soul emerges.


Book Cover WJD

WJD, by Khashayar Mohammadi

Khashayar Mohammadi’s WJD is a double-sided book, with Mohammadi’s speculative poetry on one side and a translation of Saeed Tanaevee Marvi’s The OceanDweller on the other. This is a collection with double the surreal and speculative, and is not one to miss out on.



Learn more about MONUMENT:

MONUMENT is a conversation with Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal, which moves her legacy beyond the Taj Mahal.

MONUMENT upturns notions of love, monumentalisation, and empire by exploring buried facets of Mumtaz Mahal's story. The collection layers linear time and geographical space to chart the continuing presence of historical legacies. It considers what alternate futures could have been possible. Who are we when we continue to make the same mistakes? Beyond distance, time, and boundaries, what do we still carry?

Comments here

comments powered by Disqus

More from the Blog