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Fareh Malik

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Fareh Malik is a BIPOC artist from Hamilton, Ontario, as well as a seasoned spoken word poet and established author. Fareh was named the 2022 RBC PEN Canada New Voices Award winner. He was also the winner of Hamilton Art’s Shirley Elford Prize, The 2022 October Project Poetry Award, and MH Canada's 2020 Poetry Contest. Fareh's debut book Streams That Lead Somewhere was published in 2022 with Mawenzi House Publishers. Fareh was named a finalist for 2021 Best of the Net anthology and was honoured with the 2021 Garden Project grant to explore interdisciplinary work. His individual works have been published by literary presses all around the world. Fareh’s work has been described as critical, yet sanguine; poetry that often explores the intersection of racialization and mental illness, while maintaining a silver lining on its horizon. He loves to tell the story of his struggle, and of his community around him, in the hope that others can find inspiration and companionship in it. Fareh is currently a poet and author, working on his second collection.


creative process:

I am someone who uses personal experience and narratives to formulate my work. I like to tell the story of my persona traumas and triumphs in order to secure an introspective illustration of my life. I find that I work best when I am inspired by the little things around me that often go unnoticed. I write small little metaphors and excerpts in my notebook and try to find a way to piece these parts of my mind together. I think this fluidity and connection is something that speaks towards my way of writing-- something that often moves from point A to B poetically, yet effectively. I am inspired by stories of injustice, amplifying underrepresented voices, and working to create unity and compassion in my community.

Image curtesy of Mawenzi House

Poems by Fareh Malik



A white man called me that same tired word


(don’t worry, I'm used to it)

what was once an insult

has become a verbal tick in frustration

we were in line at the 7/11

and he had chai in his cup

when he leaned into spiced steam

nose first

he couldn't even recognize my scent

Brown Skinned and Beautiful


We are the ones who look like the soil in your planters

and the gingerbread men you make on Christmas

the ones who are the coffee beans

your complex order from Starbucks

(we have been brewed to a fine dust)

I am someone who was given

quicksand skin-

an excuse for your harsh gaze

to sink in slow

I carry my mother’s sweet, chocolate words

and my father’s soot-soaked hours of labour

I am the brick for your chimneys and the lumber

sacrificed for the fire-

the spices you came to my people for

blended together in mortar and pestle

concocted the melanin that

you wished you could taste


I am the one you raised a gun at

the one you said looked like a threat

this skin was the stage where your appreciation

became fear

and from this I learned

no matter how nurturing the tree

people may still bring axes to our trunk

Sorry, Wrong Guy 2


If you didn't know

terror is an anesthesiologist

it sucks the life out of your limbs

as cocked handguns bark

get your hands up

fright is a pair of earplugs

that tune out police commands

and replace them with your mother's last words to you

horror is a cold day, practically freezing

it winds up a frigid right hook and

aims for your mouth

so when you st-st-stutter out that you're innocent

it barely makes it out of icy jaws

you see, if you're unlucky

fear will veil its face with 'non-compliance'

and invite bullets to the masquerade

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