A Kaleidoscope of Stories – Muslim Voices in Contemporary Poetry
Book Review by Humera Khan, An-Nisa Society
Where do you start with a collection of over 350 contemporary poetic contributions from 80 contributors? Do you read from beginning to end, choose the authors or find a theme? In the end I just opened the book and read from where it opened by its own volition, dipping in and out of its pages and was happy to be led by the choices it made for me.
A Kaleidoscope of Stories takes you on a journey of contemporary voices of emerging experiences, reflections and musings, primarily from a Western Muslim perspective. There are the voices of wisdom such as the late Abdal-Hayy Moore and Abdalhamid Evans and the more youthful Raqaya Esime Fetuga. Then there are those who travel the tightrope of diversity, difference and change, and of course many of the poems reflect the deeply felt spiritual journeys that comes both with elation, longing and even pain.
I must admit I do find it difficult to see a collection of poems and not get a flashback to those torturous school days of ancient poets, speaking of a time that didn’t make sense about life you couldn’t connect to. But this collection is about the here and now, the people who have followed the same paths as you, who struggle with the same struggles and who have opened their hearts in verse. I think the variety of experiences reflected in the collection will appeal to different moods and will resonate in particular with those, like me, who are not so able to put similar feelings down on paper.
Of course there were many of my favourite poets sharing their beautiful words but I particularly liked the contributions of poets I had not heard of before that reflected the complexities of diaspora, generations and changing cultures such as ‘Linguistics and Lost Languages’ by Mariam Akhtar‘, ‘My Father’s Tongue’ by Amal Kassir and ‘Heirloom’ by Rashida James-Saadiya.
As my late husband would often say those that we consider to be classical writers today such as the Shakespeares and the John Donnes or the Hafiz and Rumi were in their day contemporaries of their time, space and context writing what they saw, felt and experienced. The future classical poets, writers and Muslim commentators are emerging right now and it is so exciting to witness it.
Read more about this exciting new anthology here.