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Available in print and PDF (and EPUB, upon accessibility-related request)

by Kama La Mackerel
Fall 2020

A CBC Best Book of Poetry
A Globe and Mail Best Debut
Quebec Writers’ Federation Concordia University First Book Prizel, Finalist
Long-listed for the League of Canadian Poets Gerald Lampert Memorial Award
Writers’ Trust of Canada Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBTQ2S+ Emerging Writers, Finalist

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.”

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.

Kama La Mackerel is a Montreal-based Mauritian- Canadian multi-disciplinary artist, educator, community-arts facilitator, and literary translator who works within and across performance, photography, installations, textiles, digital art, and literature. They have exhibited and performed their work internationally and their writing in English, French, and Kreol has appeared in publications both online and in print. They have lived in far-flung places such as Pune, India and Peterborough, Ontario. ZOM-FAM is their first book.


SKU: N/A Category:

Author: Kama La Mackerel

ISBN: 9781999058845 (print)

ISBN: 9781999058869 (PDF)

Cover by Aun Li and Kai Yun Ching

  • Paperback, 120 pages
  • Printed in Quebec
  • Publication date: September 10, 2020

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.
Canthius Magazine

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.
CBC Books

Kama La Mackerel’s poetry is a sensuous and fiercely political exploration of gender, familial love, and the intergenerational impacts of colonization. Their multilingual, lyrical poems entrance with hypnotic rhythm and tell a story that spans decades and borders. La Mackerel captures the power of connections maintained in spite of the blunt, relentless pain of distance. Wooing the reader with a carefully orchestrated, gentle lapping of words, they then jolt us with earned, splashy staccatos of euphoria.
—2021 Dayne Ogilvie Prize jury (Daniel Allen Cox, Eva Crocker, and Danny Ramadan)

Dimensions N/A

PDF, Print


Print books available for purchase to addresses in Canada and the United States. PDFs available worldwide.