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Songs from Under the River: A Collection of Poetry

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After six years of touring the country, Anis has combed through out-of-print editions to put together a best-of collection. Popular poems such as "Direct Orders," "Shake the Dust," "Here Am I" and more, are collected here alongside lost poems, favorite poems and new, unpublished works.


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After six years of touring the country, Anis has combed through out-of-print editions to put together a best-of collection. Popular poems such as "Direct Orders," "Shake the Dust," "Here Am I" and more, are collected here alongside lost poems, favorite poems and new, unpublished works.

30 review for Songs from Under the River: A Collection of Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Liz Janet

    I would love to see him perform live. "Shake the Dust" "This is for the fat girls This is for the little brothers For the former prom queen And for the milk crate ball players This is for the school yard wimps And the childhood bullies that tormented them Shake the dust. This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them. This is for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns And for the men who have to hold down 3 jobs, Simply to hold up their children. For the nighttime schoolers And for the mid I would love to see him perform live. "Shake the Dust" "This is for the fat girls This is for the little brothers For the former prom queen And for the milk crate ball players This is for the school yard wimps And the childhood bullies that tormented them Shake the dust. This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them. This is for the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns And for the men who have to hold down 3 jobs, Simply to hold up their children. For the nighttime schoolers And for the midnight bike riders trying to fly Shake the dust. For the two year olds who cannot be understood because they speak half English and half god Shake the dust For the girl whose brother is going crazy For the gym class wall flower And for the 12 year olds that are afraid of taking public showers For the kid who's always late to class because he forgets the combination to his locker For the girl who loves somebody else Shake the dust. This is for the hard men Who want love, but know that it won't come For the ones who are forgotten For the ones whose amendments do not stand up for For the ones who are told to speak only when they are spoken to And then are never spoken to Speak every time you stand So that you do not forget yourself Never let a moment go by that doesn't remind you That your heart beats 100 000 times a day And that there enough gallons of blood To make everyone of you an ocean Do not settle for letting these waves settle And for the dust to collect in your veins. This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling For the poetry teachers And for the people who go on vacations alone For the sweat that drips of a Mick Jagger singing lips And for the shaking skirt on Tina Turners shaking hips And For the heavens, and for the hells through which Tina has lived This is for the tired and the dreamers And for those families that will never be like the Cleavers With perfectly made dinners, and songs like Wally and the Beaver This is for the bigots This is for the sexists This is for the killers This one is for the big house jail sentenced cats becoming redeemers And for the springtime, that somehow always shows up after every single winter This is, This is for you. Make sure that by the time the fisherman returns You are gone Because just like the days, I burn at both ends And everytime I write, everytime I open my eyes I am cutting out a part of myself Just to give it to you. So shake the dust and take me with you do For none of this, has ever been for me All that pushes and pulls And pushes and pulls Pushes for you So grab the world by its clothes pins And shake it out again, and again And jump on top and take it for a spin And when you hop off, shake it again For this is yours Make my words worth something Make this not just another poem that I write Make it like its heavy about us all And walk into it, breathe it in Let it crash through the halls of your arms Like the millions of years, of millions of poets Coursing like blood Pumping and pushing, making you live Shaking the dust So when the world knocks at your front door Clutch the knob tightly, and open on up Run forward into its wide spread greeting arms With your hands before you Your fingertips trembling Though they may be" P.S. Anis Mojgani - "21 Thoughts on the Stereotype that All Brown People Are Terrorists"

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cherry Arceo

    I have always liked poetry since I was a kid but have only learned to love it when I discovered spoken poetry. Just a random night, I was browsing through videos on YouTube when I chanced upon this man, Anis Mojgani. Just like most people I guess, I first heard Shake The Dust, from that day onwards I have been a huge fan. Of Anis, consequently of spoken poetry. There's something about words spoken that makes it more beautiful. And it seems like the messages it tries to send across sit and weigh I have always liked poetry since I was a kid but have only learned to love it when I discovered spoken poetry. Just a random night, I was browsing through videos on YouTube when I chanced upon this man, Anis Mojgani. Just like most people I guess, I first heard Shake The Dust, from that day onwards I have been a huge fan. Of Anis, consequently of spoken poetry. There's something about words spoken that makes it more beautiful. And it seems like the messages it tries to send across sit and weigh more in my heart. Anis Mojgani's poetry is like a breather to a suffocating world of hate, a reminder that life is still beautiful. There are phrases that I do not understand but feel. I bought the book as a constant reminder. It inspires me and heals the broken parts of me. By the way, you should check out Sarah Kay too.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ariel Jensen

    I almost took a nap but I started reading and my heart was pumping quickly and I sat up in bed and I finished the whole book. So so wonderful.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yeshi Dolma

    4.5/5, I round it down. I anyway always loved Anis's spoken word poetry and this collection was beautiful. For all the songs from under the river that I have heard, my day is already made. :)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Camilla

    Anis Mojgani is my absolute favorite poet ever, and I think that Songs from Under the River must be his best collection of poetry. He writes the most beautiful and amazing poems, and he always manages to surprise me with his work. It's pure magic. One of my favorite poems from this beautiful collection: Shake the Dust. "This is for the fat girls. This is for the little brothers. This is for the schoolyard wimps and for the childhood bullies that tormented them. For the former prom queen and for the Anis Mojgani is my absolute favorite poet ever, and I think that Songs from Under the River must be his best collection of poetry. He writes the most beautiful and amazing poems, and he always manages to surprise me with his work. It's pure magic. One of my favorite poems from this beautiful collection: Shake the Dust. "This is for the fat girls. This is for the little brothers. This is for the schoolyard wimps and for the childhood bullies that tormented them. For the former prom queen and for the milk crate ballplayers. For the nighttime cereal eaters and for the retired elderly Wal-Mart store front door greeters. Shake the dust. This is for the benches and the people sitting upon them. For the bus drivers driving a million broken hymns. For the men who have to hold down three jobs simply to hold up their children for the nighttime schoolers and for the midnight bike riders trying to fly. Shake the dust. This is for the 2-year-olds who cannot be understood because they speak half-English and half-God. Shake the dust. For the boys with the beautiful, beautiful sisters. Shake the dust. For the girls with the brothers who are going crazy. For those gym class wallflowers, and the 12-year-olds afraid of taking public showers. For the kid who’s always late to class because he forgets the combination to his locker. For the girl who loves somebody else. Shake the dust. This is for the hard men who want love but know that it won’t come. For the ones who are forgotten. The ones the amendments do not stand up for. For the ones who are told to speak only when you are spoken to and then are never spoken to. Speak every time you stand so you do not forget yourself. Do not let one moment go by that doesn’t remind you that your heart beats thousands of times every single day and that there are enough gallons of blood to make every one of you oceans. Do not settle for letting these waves settle and for the dust to collect in your veins. This is for the celibate pedophile who keeps on struggling. For the poetry teachers and for the people who go on vacations alone. For the sweat that drips off of Mick Jagger’s singing lips, and for the shaking skirt on Tina Turner’s shaking hips. For the heavens and for the hells through which Tina has lived. This is for the tired and for the dreamers. For the families that will never be like the Cleavers with perfectly made dinners and sons like Wally and the Beaver. This is for the bigots, for the sexists, for the killers, for the big house jail-sentenced cats becoming redeemers, and for the springtime that somehow always seems to know to show up after every one of our winters. This is for you. Make sure that by the time the fisherman returns you are gone. Because just like the days I burn at both ends and every time I write, every time I open my eyes, I am cutting out parts of myself just to give them to you. So shake the dust. And take me with you when you do. For none of this has ever been for me. All that pushes and pulls it pushes for you. So grab this world by its clothespins, and shake it out again and again. And jump on top and take it for a spin. And when you hop off, shake it again. For this is yours. Make my words worth it. Make this not just another poem that I write. Not just another poem like just another night that sits heavy above us all. Walk into it. Breath it in. Let it crash through the halls of your arms like the millions of years of millions of poets coursing like blood, pumping and pushing, making you live, shaking the dust. So when the world knocks at your front door, clutch the knob tightly and open on up. And run forward. Run forward as fast and as far as you must. Run into its widespread greeting arms with your hands outstretched before you, fingertips trembling though they may be."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nikhil

    In Songs from under the river Anis Mojgani has somehow managed to ink the softness of his voice on paper. So its fitting that we are off to the races with his ever so popular, and moving Come Closer Come closer. Come into this. You are quite the beauty. If no one has ever told you that before, know that right now: you are quite the beauty. There is joy in how your mouth dances with your teeth Your smiles are simply signs of how sacred your life actually is. He made you and he was happy. I can’t even In Songs from under the river Anis Mojgani has somehow managed to ink the softness of his voice on paper. So its fitting that we are off to the races with his ever so popular, and moving Come Closer Come closer. Come into this. You are quite the beauty. If no one has ever told you that before, know that right now: you are quite the beauty. There is joy in how your mouth dances with your teeth Your smiles are simply signs of how sacred your life actually is. He made you and he was happy. I can’t even read this without magically hearing Anis’s beautiful voice in my head. When he speaks, it feels like everything has found a way to be okay. And this collection is just as soothing. It is a delicate snapshot of fragile moments. Yet, it is unapologetic in its emotional turbulence. We go from soft whispers of love to the brokenness of his immigrant father, who dreams in English or Farsi, or sometimes both. He who left his land before his people were slaughtered. And Anis wonders if his father feels like he ran from something, wonders if his father works as hard as he does as a self-imposed penance for that feeling, pushing the shovel to build prayers that stand like shrines. In the same book, through Quentin, we get a heartbreaking confession. 
 I drive sixty through residential streets, praying to hit a child, so that they may stay forever an angel, and stay forever full of night, and light, and crayons, and simple outstretched limbs trying to pick up way too much way too fast, forgetting what it means to be a person. These two come some way after a powerful piece that sets the pace for the rest of the book - Here am I, a poem about the treasure that is childhood dreams. That we all grow up, and we forget. 
 That we all wanted to be something That we all became something But this book is polarising. It is as electrifying as it is gentle. And as vivid as it gets, sometimes I ‘got’ nothing at all. Most of his poems are highly symbolical and metaphorical. And a poem like The moon was a backyard just passes by me. It’s too layered and laboured to click for me. Even some love poems here are a bit much honestly. Like from you are the sea or Love is not a science . I get it, she is this and that and that and this. Then that thing is like another thing, and some place is like this thing. And the woman is like all of it. Whatever. That’s not saying this isn’t a great book. It quite well is. I really really like some of the poems here. Some just fly by, and I get lost trying to make sense of it. But that doesn’t matter, because the hits drown everything out. Making this a hazy, dreamy, heartfelt book for the ages. Okay. Off to youtube now to watch him perform again.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Elliott

    This book came to me as a bolt from the sky dropped on my desk from the hands of a 12 year old girl explaining that she had placed it on hold but her mother would not let her check it out This raised so many questions, but I didn't ask them I pounced I drank her denied cup of poetry I feasted on the words and melodies her mother thought not prudent to her eyes I read this book in three sittings. Two at breakfast two with my son two where I read aloud two where I encountered poems not for the first This book came to me as a bolt from the sky dropped on my desk from the hands of a 12 year old girl explaining that she had placed it on hold but her mother would not let her check it out This raised so many questions, but I didn't ask them I pounced I drank her denied cup of poetry I feasted on the words and melodies her mother thought not prudent to her eyes I read this book in three sittings. Two at breakfast two with my son two where I read aloud two where I encountered poems not for the first time three where I was sad to be done two because there was no more time and one because there were no more words. Only then did I return to my questions. How did this girl whose mother denied her this book come to know of its existence. She put it on hold asked for it directly knew and anticipated its existence only for it to be snatched away. What curiosity brought her here. Her curiosity must linger at tinted shop windows have holes it its knees from stooping into the small places have dirt in its fingernails that is always new must make marks on the cell walls to count the times such a mother imprisoned it. How could a mother who would not let her read this book allow her to discover its existence I first discovered the author on a rabbit hole, which still calls, which expounded on sea lions between sittings. They swim in cursive. Such a curiosity must have such rabbit holes memorized or scribbled on scraps and stuffed in deep pockets waiting for the moment when none of the guards are looking. What jailer denies their ward a book but lets them watch the thing on youtube. It is of some matter, but not of mine. For I was denied no such feast, I do not mark my walls, I open thrift shops where all the knees are missing. I watch for lightning bolts indoors, not caring whether they spring from the hammer of a god or hands of a child.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Huff

    Anis Mojgani's poetry has had such an incredible influence on me. When he is on, which is almost always, he is really, really on. This collection of some of his most popular work didn't disappoint. Although he often wanders into unnecessarily bizarre territory, the moments he gets right are electric. Though his work does communicate better live, this was an enjoyable collection to read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julius

    Classics from someone who is (imo) one of the best poetry slammers of all time. The book has a lovely feel to it. Even the choice in paper, font, everything seems carefully added to have that energy Anis brings to the table. And with so many strong poems that transcend the idea that poems only work on stage or on paper, this is a must have. Beautiful, strong and smart.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Russell Porter

    So fun, crazy, gloomy, loving, and heartwarming. I didn’t understand all of the poems, but enjoyed this nonetheless. Mojgani, you may have a new fan. “watching you stood back hands dripping wiped across your legs stared at it marvelling in the sunlight at how easy it was to do this how much the rocks wanted to be something”  

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nixon

    Anis is brilliant. I laughed during this, but I also felt warm and light and heavy at the same time? He captures things and puts them out in I don’t even have the word for it. But, it’s amazing. I can’t wait to read his other works. So clever and witty.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    I liked a lot of these poems, but I think the best description of this collection and Mojgani’s style can be summed up with this tweet: “We get it poets: things are like other things” @shutupmikeginn 3.5 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ross

    one of my favorite collections

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Coker

    Watching a Anis Mojgani video years ago really introduced me to spoken word poetry. I am happy to report that his work also translates well to text.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Debjyoti Paul

    I loved most of the poems. Must read if you like Anis's spoken word performance. A few of them I felt average, may be because of the expectation built by the ones I loved.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Areli Joy

    Some poems are great. Some are okay. Some are blah.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Svetlana

    Beautiful. Amazing. Never giving up my copy.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Allison

    Lovely and heartfelt

  19. 4 out of 5

    Abby Bryan

    Anis Mojgani is one of my long-time favorite poets because he represents how to bridge between spoken and written poetry. He proves that spoken poetry can be a high art form when language is utilized to its full capacity. I love the surprising way he uses specific details and cultural references in his poems to make the reader see the visual he is creating, very similar to the way one does in prose. He also creates visuals in a distinctively poetic voice. My favorite example of this is in “The F Anis Mojgani is one of my long-time favorite poets because he represents how to bridge between spoken and written poetry. He proves that spoken poetry can be a high art form when language is utilized to its full capacity. I love the surprising way he uses specific details and cultural references in his poems to make the reader see the visual he is creating, very similar to the way one does in prose. He also creates visuals in a distinctively poetic voice. My favorite example of this is in “The Fisherman:” “He lights one candle on the table / and peels the skin of his fish with his fork and knife, / peeling it back like a bedsheet.” I have always admired that simile for its ability to create strong visual imagery. I also appreciate Mojgani’s voice in this book; it is distinctly thoughtful and confessional, and I believe more poetry could use such a contemplative and graceful voice. It invites the reader to join the experience. I sincerely recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the beauty and magic of language.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    This is my second time reading this collection, and it was better than the first time. Mojgani's slam poetry is some of the best I've read or heard. My favorite poem of his is "I Sing a Song of Jacob." The first time I read it, I was impressed with how he made his friend, who clearly lived a life full of questionable choices, sympathetic. This time around I'm a different person and that poem made me cry. Mojgani also excels any time he writes about children. You can feel the wonder he writes abo This is my second time reading this collection, and it was better than the first time. Mojgani's slam poetry is some of the best I've read or heard. My favorite poem of his is "I Sing a Song of Jacob." The first time I read it, I was impressed with how he made his friend, who clearly lived a life full of questionable choices, sympathetic. This time around I'm a different person and that poem made me cry. Mojgani also excels any time he writes about children. You can feel the wonder he writes about fill up inside you and you too are a child seeing something for the first time. And the hip-hop rhythm he adopts for much of his poetry is addicting. I found myself bobbing my head along to his rhythm this time around.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Angie Reisetter

    I'll join the other reviewers in saying that I've seen Anis Mojgani perform his poetry, some of which is included in this collection, and his mesmerizing performance is what made me buy this book. I don't know how to come at this review without that particular bias... it's possible that those who haven't heard him will not find it as amazing. But Mojgani is my favorite spoken word poet, and I love this collection. It's a mix of things I already knew (and you can find them on youtube), and poems t I'll join the other reviewers in saying that I've seen Anis Mojgani perform his poetry, some of which is included in this collection, and his mesmerizing performance is what made me buy this book. I don't know how to come at this review without that particular bias... it's possible that those who haven't heard him will not find it as amazing. But Mojgani is my favorite spoken word poet, and I love this collection. It's a mix of things I already knew (and you can find them on youtube), and poems that are new to me, and it's all powerful. The strength of his voice, which is confident and comforting and challenging, all while he manages to be humble in a profound way, is what keeps me coming back to reread these.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Trevino

    Some of these poems are wonderfully engaging, and demand to be read until you find that you have unintentionally memorized most of the poem. Some don't. My hat's off to a person that can write just one poem of the former category. Anis wrote several and a lot that fall close. To people that have heard of Anis: this is an integral read. To people that are more familiar with more traditional poetry: this is an excellent collection to begin exploring slam poetry. To have the abilit to read a poem in Some of these poems are wonderfully engaging, and demand to be read until you find that you have unintentionally memorized most of the poem. Some don't. My hat's off to a person that can write just one poem of the former category. Anis wrote several and a lot that fall close. To people that have heard of Anis: this is an integral read. To people that are more familiar with more traditional poetry: this is an excellent collection to begin exploring slam poetry. To have the abilit to read a poem in your own voice and then to hear the author perform it (some of the performances are on YouTube) is a very rewarding experience. I have yet to see Anis and hope to correct this as soon as I can.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    i had the opportunity to see anis mojgani perform some of these poems and others a few years ago. as i sat in the audience - mesmerized by his words, movement, and voice - i told myself i would purchase his collection(s) as soon as i left. i didn't. until now. and it brought me right back to the small dimly-lit room filled with my friends and overlooking my favorite coffee shop, where i got goosebumps from words that punched me in the heart, a few years back. i could still feel, hear, and taste i had the opportunity to see anis mojgani perform some of these poems and others a few years ago. as i sat in the audience - mesmerized by his words, movement, and voice - i told myself i would purchase his collection(s) as soon as i left. i didn't. until now. and it brought me right back to the small dimly-lit room filled with my friends and overlooking my favorite coffee shop, where i got goosebumps from words that punched me in the heart, a few years back. i could still feel, hear, and taste the passion as i read these collection. anis' poems are filled with the kind of comfort and dreams you want to carry around in your bones, remembering their voices in contentment or despair.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chuck Young

    This isn't merely a collection of poems more than it is a book of psalms. Build a religion out of this with your kids at bedtime so that they may dream of inheriting a world more attuned to giving and receiving love.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shay

    His words are so vivid and alive you can see each moment, feel them. Almost like you got to experience it too.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    'Shake the Dust' makes you want to tilt your head up, close your eyes and dance, letting the world melt away

  27. 4 out of 5

    dantheolumona | aviecayl uy

    I am fond of reading poetry books, but this is not just my kind. However, if you are fond of reading about God, fishermen, and just other random things, well... this might just be for you.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Beautiful poetry from my favorite poet. Prefer Over the Anvil We Stretch but this collection did not disappoint.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mirna Rebeca

    Amazing book! It went directly to the center of my brain and heart!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    4.0 I just think I need to reread it

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