A CBC Best Book of Poetry A Globe and Mail Best Book Debut A Finalist for the QWF’s Concordia University First Book Prize
ZOM-FAM is a collection of lyric poems published by Metonymy Press in 2020, and is also a 90-mins solo interdisciplinary performance co-produced by the MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) combining dance, theatre, spoken word, rituals and installations that bring the book to life through the body, movement and voice across the stage. The book is available for purchase in Canada and the USA from Metonymy Press (or from your local bookstore), and can be ordered from any bookstore in the UK and Europe.
In their debut poetry collection, Kama La Mackerel mythologizes a queer/trans narrative of and for their home island, Mauritius. Composed of expansive lyric poems, ZOM-FAM (meaning “man-woman” or “transgender” in Mauritian Kreol) is a voyage into the coming of age of a gender-creative child growing up in the 80s and 90s on the plantation island, as they seek vocabularies for loving and honouring their queer/trans self amidst the legacy of colonial silences. Multiply voiced and imbued with complex storytelling, ZOM-FAM showcases a fluid narrative that summons ancestral voices, femme tongues, broken colonial languages, and a tender queer subjectivity, all of which grapple with the legacy of plantation servitude.
Striking, vivid, tender, intimate, and political, ZOM-FAM is a beautifully wrought journey that articulates a contemporary decolonial poetics and offers a roadmap for colonized and displaced queer and trans voices to (re) imagine themselves into being.
ZOM-FAM emerged from a creative process in spoken word and live performance. The book’s sister theatre performance by the same name was produced by the MAI (Montréal, Arts Interculturels) in 2020.
Praise for ZOM-FAM:
Kama La Mackerel’s debut poetry collection, ZOM-FAM, is kaleidoscopic – literally, it is beautiful in its form and scope.
—Montreal Review of Books
ZOM-FAM is a milestone in Mauritian literature [and] explores what it means to craft life and love in the slippery spaces between diasporic, linguistic, and gender identities. La Mackerel’s poetry draws from an ancestral lineage imbued with both suffering and resilience.
—World Literature Today
ZOM-FAM is not only a description, it is an exclamation, a word that carries ancestral stories but also shows a way forward.
—The Globe and Mail
This is a story about being and becoming, about creating vocabularies for yourself and stepping into them as you would a home. La Mackerel has wrought such a vocabulary for this collection, one that is tender and honest, that defies the boundaries of the English language.
This poetry collection tells a new story of Mauritius’s history, one that includes and celebrates the queer and trans stories that helped shape the island’s history.
In ZOM-FAM, Kama La Mackerel spins wondrous, powerful stories into a poetry that fills. There is so much pleasure in these pages, and much contemplation too … about the things that sometimes make us feel in flux: gender, race, colonialism, kinship. A feat in artistry, their poetic touch here is both light and knowing. This work will sing in my body and imagination for a long time. Probably forever.
—Jenny Heijun Wills, author of Older Sister. Not Necessarily Related. A Memoir
Kama La Mackerel’s ZOM-FAM is a historic and important book— and a triumph. ZOM-FAM reminded me of things I needed to remember, and taught me things I needed to know. La Mackerel’s re-memory of indentured femme travels across the kala pani to make a home brick by brick,
their invocations and re-imaginings of divine Mauritian femme intimacies, secrets, mysteries,
their recounting of colonial scars and their telling of the alchemy of their reject are crucially and beautifully told. La Mackerel writes with the whisper and shout of a genius storyteller, words that you won’t soon forget.
—Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, author of Tonguebreaker, Dirty River, Care Work, co-editor of Beyond Survival
Kama subverts the coming of age story into radiant poetry, brimming with ritual, ancestry and feminine power. ZOM-FAM is the book I’ve been eagerly waiting for.
—Vivek Shraya, author of even this page is white and I’m Afraid of Men