Publisher: Metonymy Press
Released: September 7, 2021
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.
Emerging from a creative process in spoken word and live performance, these poems transform the page into a stage where the queer femme body is written and mapped onto the colonial space of the home/island. Interwoven with Kreol, ZOM-FAM showcases a unique lyrical sensibility, a musicality influenced by the both unforgiving and soothing rhythms of the ocean, where the poet enunciates the complexity of their displaced Indo-African roots, “the lineage of silence / that we weave in-between our intimacies.
"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
"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
"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." —Canthius Magazine
"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
"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
Kama La Mackerel is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator, writer, cultural mediator, and literary translator who hails from Mauritius and now lives in Montreal. Their work is grounded in the exploration of justice, love, healing, decoloniality, and self- and collective empowerment. Kama’s artistic practice spans across textile, visual, digital, poetic, and performative work, and is at once narrative and theoretical, at once personal and political.