I have a strange love hate relationship with poetry. I can be in equal parts thoroughly confused and delighted when I read it. Poetry takes work. It extracts a cost from both reader and writer. Good poetry will wrap its hands around the sorest parts of yourself and squeeze, leaving you emotionally exhausted and strangely purged.
Harnidh Kaur’s The Inability of Words is modern, fresh and yet there is something of timelessness to her themes of love, heartbreak, magic, anger and belief (and is confirming my suspicion that Indian writers are where it’s at, and drinking deep from the source).
Emotion is captured in its rawest form in Anger Management that echoed so much of my own rage ( ‘I’m convinced I’ll leave a smoking burn on whatever and whoever I touch’) and the relatable anxiety attacks in Panic (‘I’m not human, I’m just a wind up toy with gears and nuts and bolts in my body in place of skin and sinew and flesh and bone.’)
My own sting of being judged by Good Institutional Christians was revisited in Of Sins and brought up memories of my confusion at how people weren’t acting the way the God they professed to follow told them to (Love one another as I’ve loved you, judge not lest you be judged). Were we even loving the same God? I don’t think so. This feeling that’s always gnawed at me was addressed beautifully and completely in Blasphemy.
This one hit me the hardest, especially now in these times when extremists are trying to shape their Gods in their own image, twisting them in forms of hatred even though they seem to forget they are all painting the same Abrahamic Tradition with their own vile colours. This hatred comes from the heart of man, not the heart of God. This is the face of the Gods men have created. Look long and hard at the horror of your own soul.
The point I’m trying to make is that The Inability of Words does what poetry should do – hold a mirror up to the human experience and force you to self reflect. It hits you where it hurts, makes you pause and feel it. Good poetry will always make you uncomfortable like that.