February 13th, 2013 by admin
"These poems ring with clarity, restraint and humanity. My admiration for Shadab Zeest Hashmi's poetry continues to grow."
— Sam Hamill
Shadab's poetry does what some commentators over the years say is impossible; to write extraordinary poetry while making a political statement. Shadab does this and more. Her poetry is beautiful, there is no doubt about that, go to any page:
from Swat page 52
I would have bottled the tingle in birdsong
eaten the coconut-white river
climbed the far end of the ladder
and it is full of subtle and not so subtle political insight:
from The Road page 54
The sirens of her police escort
will neatly bury
of the explosion
in the mosque
but mostly she brings the two together, not to make the political beautiful, not to make the horrible beautiful but to do as Gandhi said in a quote I once saw on a high school teachers wall. " It has always been about beauty, always!"
from U.S. Air Strikes page 68
Just when I finished rinsing the carafe,
a whole city was under cement dust and smoke,
and I thought I heard screaming behind walls of fire
in the kettle's sharp whistle,
just when I added the cloves,
the last green lime.
You see she will not let you collapse into horror, she will demand that beauty stays with you and heals you as she shows you what we do in each others name. What we do and what we must not do, she shows us what in truth we must do, we must always be about beauty.
You really must read all of this book.
John Peterson, publisher
About the book
"The bride who contemplates her half paralyzed face on the eve of marriage (in the opening poem "Facial Palsy") is emblematic of the larger story of Pakistan: an ancient culture fractured by new and divergent identities. The poet, like the bride whose face is divided into "lit" and "dim" halves, gazes into the mirrors of history and politics to make sense of the disjunctive parts that refuse to come together as a whole. The very multiplicities of culture that the poet celebrates ("Socrates/mangoes cut in cubes," "Iqbal's poems on marble construction paper," "rouge from Paris, coconut oil from Orissa") are also the cause of dissonance ("War cries of the Greeks/ in plume red/Mongols/ in horse-leather red," "Gunga Din's ghost lifted from the tennis courts/of Peshawar Club")— dissonance that is further amplified in the post-9/11 wars to which a Pakistani-American response in poetry has thus far been absent. Kohl & Chalk is that response in the voice of a daughter, a mother, a global citizen."
Posted in: Uncategorized, Poets Comment into the World,