Danyal Hassan presents four poems that—in trying to make sense of the word ‘Kashmir’—develop a manifesto-in-verse against the nauseating exotica and orientalist framing that Kashmir is subjected to while a history of war, subjugation, and dispossession remains conveniently ignored—and at the expense of such exoticization and orientalization.
The history of a peoples besieged by war is one felt close at home by many in Kashmir and beyond. Danyal Hassan’s poem connects that history to one known more widely, placing the subject of his six-part poem on an intersectional map between the violence of power and the resistance of the people. Entrapped in such a cartography and its “Museum of Little Things”, a poetic voice finds overlaps within a common experience, where a collective memory retrieves pages lost to dust. Regardless of the many historical references that may elicit some sort of comparison, the poem centers around a distinct poetic figure narrating a particular experience, like a Dante stuck in Inferno, far exiled from the ever-elusive Paradiso (made such with great purpose and design).