Excerpt: Rebellion Box by Hollay Ghadery

Iranian-Canadian author Hollay Ghadery is the author of several books, most recently, Rebellion Box (Radiant Press, 2023), a collection of poetry that explores the limits of fixed identity through a universal, global, and hyper-local lens. The title poem of the collection—which is about Joseph Gould’s involvement in the 1837 Rebellion—won The New Quarterly’s 2022 Nick Blatchford Award. Hollay is also the owner of River Street Writing, a collective of creatives who aim to create and celebrate amazing writing. Hollay is a co-host of Angela’s Bookclub on 105.5 HITS FM and an editor with untethered magazine and long con magazine. She is also the Poet Laureate of Scugog Township. You can learn more about Hollay at www.hollayghadery.com, and about River Street Writing at www.riverstreetwriting.com

This explosive debut collection pushes against the limitations of gender roles, race, bodies, and minds, and explores our insignificance and impotence in the universe. The concept of otherness afforded by a marginalized and neurodivergent perspective is brilliantly represented in this book. 

Corpse Pose

at least there must always
be hands

clasped in prayer
dry and distant mountains
ears open next to eyes and

fleshy parts to hold, like
God’s final thought before bedtime
how it hangs, clipped.
I was born nostalgic

just looking out my window—gheir az
khuda hichkas nabood—
legs folded under me,
my cupped palms hold
no secrets—
one cannot

quitters never rest or
regain the upper hand
so what if I begin
to cry despite myself? I
used to wish to
vanish. Now I
wish for axenagogue
yeki bood, yeki nabood  
Zion is air rustling in my lungs.

Chair Pose

(Uxbridge Grammar School, 1852)

They’re fine monsters,
on a physical level. Unruly
bones, feet
splintered downwards.
Nothing between them
and disobedience
but a good teacher.
Think about it.


good punishment
might be to line them up
against a wall, have them hold
a deep-seated position,
nothing between them
and the floor but empty space.

Think of a specified time

and stick to it. It’s grounding,
another good way to keep
your chest broad, heart lifted.
Of course, they will writhe
from discomfort,
and pain

it’s certainly challenging.
You will require balance,
course, and determination.

Just think:
You’re extending their fingers
to the sky, rooting
bones and feet in smooth
exhale. In

of pain as beauty,
of this as a good way
to fine-tune your monsters.