Spotlight series #72 : Saba Pakdel

rob mclennan
2 min readApr 4, 2022

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.


Memory — a simultaneously shared and solitary phenomenon — is partly composed of a collective experience of being and partly of an individual’s unique perspective. The murky line that distinguishes the two is where this poem resides. “I am archive” echoes a generational experience of being layered into an “I” who’s re-reliving it in a populous loneliness. The “baby” that is inside “me” is, in an existential moment, a “baby me” reimagined in a matryoshka body. On that note, memory is genderless, so is giving birth to its existence. Thus, “Un-” is fluid in its attempt to prefix what you imagine it to be.


there is an un-born baby in me
as your gaze follows
plants their tiny fingers and toes in my veins
flesh and blood running
“I am not yet composed,” my body cries
baby is born
like the lines that never complete
reformulated as prose you do not read
poetry that never exists
there is / a dead baby
in / me living the life determined
before history
I am archive
they gets bigger
they gets gendered
they gets renamed
swaying on a line that leads where it ends
history suffocates memory
when dreams cause Alzheimer’s
yet never fully believed I am archive
living the infant’s second
of a million years
with a baby me in me
growing up and
down in streams
a dormant victory of living a dead archive
“Pages are not yet numbered,” drafting time in void
no sequence
we continue as the un-numbered.

Spring 2022

Saba Pakdel is a poet, modernist scholar, and PhD student in the English department at University of Victoria. She completed her BA and MA in English language and literature in Iran. She earned her second MA in English at Simon Fraser University in 2021.

Saba has attended and coordinated literary workshops and poetry readings; published poems, translations, and essays; and collaborated in stage plays as a playwright and backstage filmmaker. For a while, she worked as an editorial assistant at Talonbooks Publishing in Vancouver. Photography is her occasional and non-verbal means of communication with the world.

Saba specializes in migration studies and contemporary literature with a focus on exile, refugee, and immigration problems, particularly in works of migrant authors from the Middle East and Maghreb. Her research addresses the identity formation of migrants away from Euro-centric formulations based in twentieth century ideas about migration, largely derived from post-WWII circumstances, toward a contemporary reckoning with experiences of migration.

A chapbook will be out in May with above/ground press.