Category Archives: Poetry

Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles by Ankit Chadha

the-man-in-riddles Title: Amir Khusrau: The Man in Riddles
Author: Ankit Chadha
Publisher: Penguin Random House India
ISBN: 978-0143426486
Genre: Literary Fiction, Poetry
Pages: 96
Source: Publisher
Rating: 4 Stars

I had heard of Ankit Chadha and his Dastangoi acts from a lot of friends. I am yet to witness the magic he creates though. After reading this short book by him on Khusrau’s riddles and some about his life, I will for sure watch Chadha spin his brilliant talent. I did then watch some episodes on YouTube but let me also tell you, I am sure that they do not hold a candle to the real thing.

Amir Khusrau’s life is revealed in this book “The Man in Riddles” cleverly and masterfully by Ankit Chadha. This book is also part-verse and part-mystery – a puzzle for the readers – something for them to engage in and at the same time, get to know Khusrau better. Khusrau was a poet, a strategist, a musician, a scholar, and more. His spiritual master was Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya and his tomb is next to his master’s in Delhi. It is fascinating just to trace his life on the Internet and know more about this man.

The illustrations are not mere pictures or fancy art – they go hand in hand with the story that Chadha has to tell. The book is exquisite, in the sense of what is communicated and how it is done – bilingually – with both Hindi//Urdu (though he mainly wrote a lot in Persian) on one side and English on the other side.

I think the only way to experience Khusrau now would be through Ankit’s Dastangoi. I hope that works out for me really soon. I cannot wait to live it in person. When that is done, a trip to Delhi must be made to know more, a lot more than I do now.

Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed

Nejma by Nayyirah Waheed Title: Nejma
Author: Nayyirah Waheed
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1494493325
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 178
Source: Kindle Unlimited Library
Rating: 4 Stars

Another glorious read by Nayyirah Waheed and she manages to strike yet another chord with me. I mean one book after the other and I just want to lap and take everything she has to offer. Her words are deliciously bitter, lonely and angst-ridden. All they want is an audience – ears that will take it all in and reflect. Souls that will be moved and perhaps prompted to do something about the atrocities of the world.

“Nejma” by Nayyirah Waheed is a poetry collection which is kinda overlooked in the shadow of “salt” but you will definitely not be disappointed when you give this one a go. The poems come from a place of suffering, of introspection and then they sweep you to places of the heart and mind that you never thought you’d venture.

Waheed’s writing is so lucid that it seeps into your soul and I am not even exaggerating about this. I think every poem was so different and unique that it had me wondering – that she can go on and on and on and I would love to turn the pages and soak it all in. The poems are structured again like they were in “salt” – the poem, followed by a word – so it seems that the poem describes the word – which it really does.

“Nejma” is a collection of poems that range from the extremely angry to the tiredly gracious to the most subtle that breaks your heart – over and over again. Might I also add that it is because of independent publishers such as Create Space, we get to read these gems. The poetry that sticks is the kind you always go back to – reliving those words and wanting more. Three cheers to them and to the power of words that keep us alive – day by day.

salt. by Nayyirah Waheed

salt by Nayyirah Waheed Title: salt.
Author: Nayyirah Waheed
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
ISBN: 978-1492238287
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 258
Source: Borrowed from Kindle Unlimited
Rating: 5 Stars

Once in a while you read something that shakes your core. It jolts you out of the mundane existence and makes you question everything and everyone around you. Has that ever happened to you? Have you ever felt so compelled by art? Nayyirah Waheed’s poetry did that to me. It made me want to drop everything, leave everything behind and go and find myself. It had that kind of an impact. I am this close to perhaps even doing that.

I don’t know why it felt the way it did, but I honestly believe that if any work of art can drive you to this point or to tears (which also happened by the way) then it is an indication that you wake up, smell the coffee and do something about what is going on – in your life and also to perhaps make a better change in someone else’s life as well.

“salt” is a collection of poems by Waheed on the condition of being black, feeling alienated, how the heart is empty and bereft, how does one heal after all, and of various other matters of the heart and soul. Each poem comes with a word at the bottom – the poem defines the word – gives it meaning and that is the format of this collection.

I don’t know what more to say about this magnificent collection of poems. I have no words, honestly. I don’t even know if I would be doing the book any justice at all by talking about it. “salt” is the kind of collection of poems that will rip your heart out, toss it a little, turn it a bit, throw it far away, make you realize what you have lost, make you fetch it, repair it and let it heal. A stunning collection of poems.

Our World – Photographs by Molly Malone Cook and Text by Mary Oliver

Our World - Photographs by Molly Malone Cook and Text by Mary Oliver Title: Our World
Author: Photographs by Molly Malone Cook and Text by Mary Oliver
Publisher: Beacon Press
ISBN: 9780807068809
Genre: Poetry, Prose, Non-Fiction, Photography
Pages: 96
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had heard of Mary Oliver through Brainpickings.org and I was in love with her poetry. There is something to it, which I cannot attach a word to. I am sure other readers of her poems will agree with what I have to say. However, the book read first in the month was not her book of poems. It was more of a memoir and not quite that. It was a book on her life with her partner of forty years, Molly Malone Cook. “Our World” is the name of the book. The title is so apt, more so when the works of both people are merged, then the result is something so deep, personal and emotional.

Our World - Image 1

“Our World” is a book that demands to be savoured and read in gulps. The photographs shot by Molly and the words provided by Mary are so complimentary that you cannot take one from the other. Molly was Mary’s partner of forty years, as I mentioned before. This book is almost a dedication to her, as she passed away from lung cancer. Mary remembers the moments spent without being too sentimental about them. She remembers their life (funny how two lives when combined become this one singular entity of love and everything hopeful) together and the small and the big things. I think that is life after all – the good life – the life spent together and there is nothing else to it then.

Molly’s photographs talk of reality. They speak to the reader/viewer of simplicity and kindness. They radiate joy. Mary invites us to her most personal aspect – the relationship she shared with Molly. Every face in the photographs is communicated. Every word that Mary writes is enchanting. Not to forget some pieces from Molly’s journal towards the end that leaves a lump in the throat. Read this book just so you can believe in togetherness all over again and if you already do, then it will just reaffirm it for you.

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B is for Bad Poetry by Pamela August Russell

B is for Bad Poetry by Pamela August Russell Title: B is for Bad Poetry
Author: Pamela August Russell
Publisher: Sterling
ISBN: 978-1402767876
Genre: Poetry
Pages: 118
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Pamela August Russell takes the ordinary, the mundane and the daily situations and turns them into poetry. The title of the book is utterly misleading because her poetry is anything but bad. These poems shine. They make you want to believe in everything around you and as quickly convert you to a non-believer. They are tongue-in-cheek, raw, intense, stupidly funny at times and mostly they are just mocking all of us, with a lot of ease and panache.

Nietzsche and the Ice-Cream Truck

“B is for Bad Poetry” is one of those reads that do not end. They can be referred to or picked at any time and the reader will feel good for a bit. The feel-good factor and the melancholic angle of the book creates the right balance that is needed in a book of poems, and to top it all, Russell does this with a sense of humour.

Security Question

The poems talk of demons of everyday life, but without making them sound like demons. They soothe you and comfort you and at the same time make you see things for exactly how they are. There is irony, humour and everything else in-between in this collection. Russell makes no bones about life, nor does she sugar-coat anything for the reader. She serves it the way she sees it or has experienced it. I think that is the best way to write poems anyway.

Tea for Two

“B is for Bad Poetry” is a book which can be read anywhere. It is a small read, infused with doses of loss and love and humour to the brim. This is a book of poems for all – for some who take them seriously and for some who do not. I highly recommend this one for people who are just starting to read poetry. This one will not intimidate you for sure.