Humaira Kapadia’s ‘I’m Looking’ (BookLeaf Publishing, 2021) and Mafazah Sharafuddin’s ‘In Memoriam’ (Alcove Publishers, 2021) mark a moment in the world of poetry, going beyond the banal and avoiding syrupy cliches.
Mafazah, whose first collection of poetry published at the tender age of sixteen, Labyrinth of Emotions also received praise in quite a few circles, now has come out with a mature collection which reflects, muses and looks back at the season of mourning that has enveloped many of us, and the many whom we have lost in the past years. Spanning 40 poems, it is sizeable read and allows the reader to embrace the book through different moods and spirits, rather than consuming it in one go. The titular poem, In Memoriam leaves the reader in a reflective mood:
“Is it ever truly quiet here?
It cannot be
Not when the sounds of mourning echoes.
A mother left behind
A volley of companions
A few too many memories.”
Another point to note is her skillful use of literary metaphors and characters – from Medusa, Ophelia to characters from Greek mythology. The poems are also interspersed with sketches, providing a break to reflect upon.
Humaira Kapadia’s book is divided into two sections – Looking Outwards and Looking Inward. Self-explanatory, the book examines both the self and the society beyond. From Palestine, to the falsity of social media and the situation in Kashmir, Kapadia handles the world around her with ease and asks questions of it. A quiet empathy shines; from the drudgery of housework to those lost in cyclones and the boats sunk by it. The inability of having true empathy in a social-media-ridden, hyper-connected yet disconnected world also emerges, as the writer, like all of us, scrolls through dire headlin after headline, sinking under feeling too much, and feeling too little.
From tahajjud to hijab to the inextricable imposition of ‘measurements’ – IQ, weight, success – that dominate our world, the second, even more reflective half of the book also reveals a rising poetic voice that will surely remain in the minds and pages of the literary sphere in the times to come.
Both books offer hope that in a time when narratives are set by the mainstream media, all is not lost, and indeed, there is a growing vocalization of the self among young women writers, who are willing to take on all sorts of issues, as well as reflect upon their own selves in these difficult times.
Aura is also proud to note that both the poets have chosen to publish their poetry with the magazine in the past; and wishes them all the best with their endeavours in the future