Skip to main content

Stinging Flowers

 


Book Review

Title: She and Other Poems

Author: Huma Masood

Format: PDF E-book

Carl Sandburg defined poetry as an echo asking a shadow to dance. Good poetry is a dance of words. No, not really words but images and metaphors. Take this haiku, for example:

            A flower stung me

            One bright, beautiful morning

            Shocked, I hear a buzz.

This is from Huma Masood’s collection under review. Most of her poems have that stunning effect on the reader. The effect comes largely from the images and metaphors that the poet employs dexterously. Huma has a scintillating imagination. While too many poets of our day rely on what Coleridge calls ‘fancy’, Huma is blessed with an imagination whose creative intensity can aesthetically shape and unify experiences. This is the secret of the power of her poetry.

Let me give one more example. Here is another haiku titled ‘Unspoken Words’:

       Louder than the noise

       Graceful, intense, deafening

       Few unspoken words.

Which sound are you left with after reading those lines? That is the final impact of Huma’s poetry on you.

The collection is divided into four parts with the titles: She, Dilemma, Inspired, and Random Thoughts. Every poem, irrespective of the section to which they belong, is short and passes through your consciousness like a whizzing bullet. Once it has passed, you think it’s a breeze that went by. Or is it? Good literature disturbs and soothes you at the same time.

All the poems in the first part are about women, as the title indicates. The prologue to this part says that women are caged though there is all the illusion of freedom.  You can fly as long as your wings don’t “clash with the cage walls”.  There are the mountains out there luring you to their wide worlds. Women want to break their restraints and explore the high domains. But the souvenirs of patriarchy lying all over trip her.

The second part presents certain inevitable dilemmas of human life. Words can be knives sometimes and leave scars that are as ugly as blackbirds. But there is always optimism bubbling in those lines in spite of the underlying gloom and pain. The “hidden tears and unsaid fears” will give way to the dawn’s “rays of gold” when the truths will unfold.

We get some inspirational lines in the third part. Go where you can grow, the first poem in this section tells us. Go barefoot, walk the spiked road, jump over defining lines. There is a desire, however feeble and suppressed, to break certain restrictions, lying hidden beneath the breezy smoothness of the lines in most poems. “Nothing is beyond your reach,” another poem in this section tells you. If only you “dare to dare”.

Reading Huma Masood is at once a stunning and soothing experience. She can stun you with such opening lines as “What is to be said / Of cold cruel deaths”. And she can soothe you with the songs of spring while whispering to you the warning that autumn will have to listen.



PS. This book is free to download now here.

This book is part of The Blogchatter’s E-book carnival and my contribution to it is  LIFE: 24 Essays.

 

Comments

  1. I'm drawn to good writing like a bee is drawn to nectar. So, despite having read Huma's book, I couldn't help but read your review.
    WOW! Did we read the same book?
    It's partly Huma's poetic prowess and partly your reviewing skills that have left me stunned (with admiration) after reading this post.
    Thank you for this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Delighted to have you here, Arti. I'm flattered by your metaphor.

      Delete
  2. Hari OM
    I am as interested in Arti's response as to your own - and this proves the quality of poetry that each can draw from it precisely what they need or wish! Good poetry, that is. Any worth writing will strike each reader exactly where they need it. YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, poetry has that power... Open to so many interpretations.

      Delete
  3. could see how deep you have been into the book by your review... amazing

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm used to books and literature. That makes reading easy and fun too.

      Delete
  4. To be able to stun and soothe at the same time with mere words - this is one of the best feedbacks I got for my poetry. An excellent way to start the week.

    Thank you so much for a wonderful review. And the blog title fits perfectly too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Best wishes to you. May we get more poetry from you.

      Delete
    2. Thank you and look forward to your life essays

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

An Aberration of Kali Yuga

Are we Indians now living in an aberrant period of history? A period that is far worse than the puranic Kali Yuga? A period in which gods decide to run away in fear of men? That’s a very provocative question, isn’t it, especially in a time when people are being arrested for raising much more innocuous questions than that? But I raise my hands in surrender because I’m not raising this question; the Malayalam movie that Maggie and I watched is. Before I go to the provocations of the movie, I am compelled to clarify a spelling problem with the title of the movie. The title is Bhramayugam [ ഭ്രമയുഗം] in Malayalam. But the movie’s records and ads write it as Bramayugam [ ബ്രമയുഗം ] which would mean the yuga of Brama. Since Brama doesn’t mean anything in Malayalam, people like me will be tempted to understand it as the yuga of Brahma . In fact, that is how I understood it until Maggie corrected me before we set off to watch the movie by drawing my attention to the Malayalam spelling

Karma in Gita

I bought a copy of annotated Bhagavad Gita a few months back with the intention of understanding the scripture better since I’m living in a country that has become a Hindu theocracy in all but the Constitution. After reading the first part [chapters 1 to 6] which is about Karma, I gave up. Shelving a book [literally and metaphorically] is not entirely strange to me. If a book fails to appeal to me after a reasonable number of pages, I abandon it. The Gita failed to make sense to me just like any other scripture. That’s not surprising since I’m not a religious kind of a person. I go by reason. I accept poetry which is not quite rational. Art is meaningful for me though I can’t detect any logic in it. Even mysticism is acceptable. But the kind of stuff that Krishna was telling Arjuna didn’t make any sense at all. To me. Just a sample. When Arjuna says he doesn’t want to fight the war because he can’t kill his own kith and kin, Krishna’s answer is: Fight. If you are killed, you win he

Raising Stars

Bringing up children is both an art and a science. The parents must have certain skills as well as qualities and value systems if the children are to grow up into good human beings. How do the Bollywood stars bring up their children? That is an interesting subject which probably no one studied seriously until Rashmi Uchil did. The result of her study is the book titled Raising Stars: The challenges and joys of being a Bollywood parent . The book brings us the examples of no less than 26 Bollywood personalities on how they brought up their children in spite of their hectic schedules and other demands of the profession. In each chapter, the author highlights one particular virtue or skill or quality from each of these stars to teach us about the importance of that aspect in bringing up children. Managing anger, for example, is the topic of the first chapter where Mahima Chowdhary is our example. We move on to gender equality, confidence, discipline, etc, and end with spirituality whi

Kabir the Guru – 2

Read Part 1 of thi s here . K abir lived in the 15 th century. But his poems and songs are still valued. Being illiterate, he didn’t write them. They were passed on orally until they were collected by certain enthusiasts into books. Vipul Rikhi’s book, Drunk on Love: The Life, Vision and Songs of Kabir , not only brings the songs and poems together in one volume but also seeks to impart the very spirit of Kabir to the reader. Kabir is not just a name, the book informs us somewhere in the beginning. Kabir is a tradition. He is a legend, a philosophy, poetry and music. I would add that Kabir was a mystic. Most of his songs have something to do with spirituality. They strive to convey the deep meaning of reality. They also question the ordinary person’s practice of religion. They criticise the religious leaders such as pandits and mullahs. Though a Muslim, Kabir was immensely taken up by Ram, the Hindu god, for reasons known only to him perhaps. Most of the songs are about the gr

Kabir the Guru - 1

Kabirvad Kabirvad is a banyan tree in Gujarat. It is named after Kabir, the mystic poet and saint of the 15 th century. There is a legend behind the tree. Two brothers are in search of a guru. They have an intuitive feeling that the guru will appear when they are ready for it. They plant a dry banyan root at a central spot in their courtyard. Whenever a sadhu passes by, they wash his feet at this particular spot. Their conviction is that the root will sprout into a sapling when their guru appears. Years pass and there’s no sign of any sapling. No less than four decades later, the sapling rises. The man who had come the previous day was a beggarly figure whom the brothers didn’t treat particularly well though they gave him some water to drink out of courtesy. But the sapling rose, after 40 years! So the brothers went in search of that beggarly figure. Kabir, the great 15 th century mystic poet, had been their guest. The legend says that the brothers became Kabir’s disciples. The b