These words come to mind when reading Hima Raza's collection of poems. Reading her poetry is a visual experience as your eyes try to catch the words dancing and skipping across the page. You want to step back at times and not read a word, but simply enjoy the abstract image of the words. Poetry purists may feel the visual placement of the words detracts from the meaning and this format should be left to the few and the great contemporary masters. However, for those who find pleasure in experimentation, Raza's collection is a pleasing find.
This verse of a poem, intertwined with symbols, serves as an example of the selection and placement of words and their meaning within the poem.
Raza's modern style of poetry is like multidimensional art in that the reader can read the poem multiple times and interpret it differently each time. It is not merely up and down verse, but up, down, left, right, circular and diagonal at times. This poem can be "What lips cannot speak" as well as "What cannot lips speak." This interplay and layered interpretation can also be found in the title of her collection, "Memory Stains." Is "stains" a verb and "memory" a noun? Is "stains" a noun for which "memory" is an adjective?
what ----> lips cannot speak
However, focusing on the language she uses, rather than her technique of expression, she could use a little more power. The words could be stronger, unique and emit more emotion than they do. Her language is simple and does not clutter the reader's mind with exaggerated vocabulary, which is often present and expected within the academic realm. Here is another example of a visual, yet simplistic poem:
As for the content of Raza's work, she focuses on human emotions and universal struggles. For a South Asian woman, her work rarely reflects her ethnicity, as the topics are common issues. Even when she touches on political themes, they could refer to any country or situation. You feel her pensiveness and disappointment with the world. Sometimes you feel her disappointment with life and that she was expecting something more.a wonderful thing like hazelnuts hidden in chocolate surprises never forgotten secrets never revealed a quest for falling shadows in the voice of angels at dawn lately I wonder about nostalgia candy-framed moments of yesterday shaping times with tender hands I am stories dreamt before birth -- beyond death in a stranger's imagination
Hima Raza has taken liberty with her poetry in her first published collection of poetry. She has a background in English literature from Lahore and New South Wales, Australia; she is currently researching her M. Phil degree in Post-Colonial Literature at the University of Sussex. She has taught English at the high school and university levels in Lahore.syllables thick as pea soup and winter-morning fog when land is burnt to feed itself through inky days and desperate dark, like the eyes of hungry children before dreams take them in unquiet arms to a place far away to a tale half done as clammy fingers walk the plank with empty heart towards an imminent end
While "Memory Stains" does not make any revolutionary or radical contributions to the halls of literature, for enthusiasts of contemporary poetry, this is an enjoyable collection.
More about Hima Raza
[Poetry] [Reviews] [Bookshelf] [Sawnet]