All the way from Benin City, Edward Elizabeth brings us three poems that reflect pain and perseverance through the depths of an anguish past yet fresh in the mind and latent in the soul. A young poet engaging with essential questions of life and death, destruction and creation, survival and healing, Elizabeth’s verses do not shy away from expressing a vulnerability felt far and wide by more than enough people around the world. These three poems were submitted before the times of global pandemic and perhaps serve to remind us that adversity is inherently linked to human life, while vulnerability is best conveyed as strength in the courage to write such verses.
On 15 March 2018, Madhosh Balhami lost his house and thirty years of written poetry to a fire in the middle of a gun battle between Indian soldiers and rebels. Producers and directors Irfan Dar and Gowhar Farooq have come up with a short documentary series on Kashmiri poetry titled “Madhosh Balhami: The Poet of Perseverance”. Here is an updated page with each of the episodes as they are released. In the first episode, Ghulam Muhammad Bhat (Madhosh Balhami) reminisces about “his early education and the trauma of losing his parents at a young age.” Balhami also revisits the “moment when he took to poetry to express his inner anguish” and recites one of his poems (with English subtitles). Camera by Mohammad Irfan Dar and translation by Hanan Zaffar. Additional links are included to familiarize readers and viewers with Madhosh Balhami’s story and greater work. All media embedded directly from original sources.
We present a poem that versifies the struggle and rise of those confined to death, disregard and abandonment while striving to survive. The poem as a song of individual and female resilience for the ages is presented here to commemorate the rise of a brown Middle Eastern man and his enduring legacy as the defender of the poor, the healer of the sick and the rescuer of the downtrodden.
Given that the poem ventures far beyond this particular cultural and religious context, it is also presented here quite simply as a perfect example of recitation by its poet. In the current predicament of our times, this poem builds upon the symbolic importance that it already holds the world over. This particular recitation affirms that importance in inspiring and uplifting while also providing solace to those who celebrate its verses, especially in times of great adversity.
Educator and poet Bupinder SIngh presents a timely poem on dissent and resistance and how these are misrepresented such that “If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing” (as Malcolm X once famously said).
Medical-student-by-day and poet-and-writer-by-night Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan presents three poems that rise from the embodied soul and meditate on existence in verses that ride on simplicity yet convey the greater cultural complexity of the young Nigerian poet’s musings.
Syed Rabia Bukhari presents two of her poems that dig deep into vast human preoccupations such as memory, forgetfulness, loss and grief, with all of these congealing into a trace of the human experience that reflects perseverance in life and in living. What it means to be alive and more importantly what it means to have lived is perhaps best conveyed through the verses in these two poems.
All the way from Somerset (UK), Henry Bladon brings us two poems, “The Modernist Tea Shop” and “In the Moroccan Bookshop.” Both poems are set in enclosed spaces where books, readings, and writing converge to locate both the poet and the reader in ways that it is hard to tell them apart.
In this poem, Ashaq Hussain Parray retrieves the toil of hard labor coupled with expert artistry in an environment of bloodshed and grief that is weaved deep in threads like wounds destined to heal.
From the Indian diaspora, all the way from Chicago, Kashiana Singh brings us four poems that voice a nostalgia interpolated with greater preoccupations that linger like shadows crafted from verse.
From Nigeria, young poet Nnadi Samuel sends us two poems that versify a vernacular of violence and stoic grief with imagery that disturbs and words that reflect endurance and perseverance.
On this day commemorating Kashmiri Women’s Resistance, young poet and research scholar Marriah Nayeem brings us three poems like glimpses of life in Kashmir captured in the verses of a polyphonic poetic voice that traverses multiple generations of women. When Mikhail Bakhtin refers to “heteroglossia” as the “coexistence of varieties” and variations in a “diversity of voices, styles of discourse, or points of view” within a “singular linguistic code” (i.e. the literary work itself), one is compelled to think of the many ways in which Kashmiri women as young as adolescent girls and young women in their twenties are pushed towards an enduring wisdom attributed to the generation of their mothers and grandmothers. Such an occurrence is due, perhaps, to the harsh realities and struggles that encroach upon life in Kashmir, where children grow up without an experience of childhood attributed to other places around the world that are not struck by conflict and war.
Babra Sharief’s poem ties a knot between the grief of the most recognized Kashmiri poet in contemporary times and the grief found in the poetic voice of her verses. Such a poetic unfolding retrieves the sense of loss that Agha Shahid Ali mourned in many of his poems, thereby making such a lament the inheritance of the young poet and her readers, particularly the Kashmiri ones.