The poems in Shadab Zeest Hashmi’s fine collection offer spare and subdued reflections on the daily life, politics, art, and above all, the cultural exchange steeping the world of Medieval Spain. This book is informed by painstaking historical fact, to be sure, but the history here is illuminated by an imaginative fire. The poems are carefully conceived and finely crafted, notable for their supple phrasing and precise imagery. But a larger passion emerges from this collection, namely, the reminder that there was a time when Muslims, Jews, and Christians lived peaceably and decently together, and each tradition was made richer for it. Hashmi’s Baker of Tarifa is a somber, elegant, and persuasive book.
-- Maurice Manning
Al Andalus--a unique cultural convergence in human time where myth hovers the way moths are drawn to lampshine, and in her luminous, spare language, Shadab Zeest Hashmi catches its essence: attar of memory, the perfume of peace, sweet rising dough of dailiness; at the end, smoke rising, the reek of war, useless keys, exile, sorrow distilled and deepened by the presence--in these deeply felt, lovely poems--of what feels newly lost.
-- Eleanor Wilner
“These ghosts, like fireflies, glow only for an instant. I have come to catch their light.” Shadab Zeest Hashmi opens a door on the world of Islamic Spain, Al Andalus, and through luminous anecdote, portrait and contemplation, reveals a world rich in history, rich in humanity.
-- Sam Hamill
San Diego Book Award Winner - 2011
Shadab Zeest Hashmi draws a picture of the great flowering of ideas possible when a civilization is tolerant of diversity, and conversely, the withering and destruction brought on by war and literalism.
-- Ilona Yusuf