Q&A with Munira Tabassum Ahmed

A photo of contributor Munira Tabassum Ahmed against a light turquoise and yellow wave-pattern background. To the left are three images of the magazine’s cover in a column. Text above the photo reads “THE SUBURBAN REVIEW magazine, issue: #21, theme: SALT”. To the right of the photo is the contributor’s name. Along the bottom of the image the magazine’s website “thesuburbanreview.com” is repeated three times.

MUNIRA TABASSUM AHMED is a 15-year-old writer and performer. Her work is featured in The Lifted Brow, Australian Poetry Journal, Cordite, Emerging Writers Festival, Runway Journal and elsewhere. As a performer, she has been recognised by BPS and Westside, as well as being a state runner up in the Australian Poetry Slam. She is also the co-editor-in-chief of Hyades Magazine.

Our Associate Editor, Panda Wong, talks to Munira about ‘Like Salt’, published in #21: Salt.

I love the way you explored this theme of salt and its gestures towards preservation, time, and enrichment in your poem ‘Like Salt’. I felt carried by the poem’s flowing rhythm, and its gentle pace… it opens up with that last striking image of ‘a flower butters the earth with its bloom’. Can you tell us more about what sparked this poem, what inspirations you drew on?

The folktale behind ‘Like Salt’ is present in many cultures throughout Europe and Asia. I wanted to explore it through a softer, maternal lens; where misinterpretation is met with banishment in the original tale, my poem hopes to approach changes in understanding with love and time. Often, growth is nonlinear, but I found something beautiful in the idea of salt allowing for a past state of love to remain—not diminish, rather, intensify as understanding expands.

You are also an Editor-in-Chief at Hyades Magazine, an online magazine of poetry and fiction. What compelled you to start this publication? What vision do you have for Hyades and what kind of work do you want to showcase?

I started the magazine with my friend Janiru Liyanage at the end of last year. We wanted to highlight a variety of voices from across the world and provide a platform for stories that were strong in their desire to be heard. We are in the final stages of our selection process at the moment, and the pieces that we loved the most were memorable and used language in a beautiful way. Our goal right now is just to curate a wonderful first issue, but long term we hope to expand our organisation to encompass a larger variety of artistic disciplines.

What upcoming projects or publications do we have to look forward to from you?

I’ll be on the front page of SOFTBLOW’s August 2021 edition, and I will be a part of the Dis-belonging Bodies project for the Emerging Writers’ Festival. I’m also in the process of my first piece of literary criticism for one of my favourite quarterlies, but I can’t speak too much on that yet.