KARACHI: “I hope you were able to relate and realise that you are not alone in feeling a lot of things you do feel,” says the author’s note in Annum Salman’s newly-launched debut collection of poems Sense Me.
Salman is a spoken-word poet from Pakistan currently residing in the UK. In her book, she writes about her experiences as a woman, daughter and foreigner through the lens of gender, race and mental health.
The 97 short poems are exactly what the author promises in her note at the end of the book: relatable. Be it her poem ‘An Apology’ which lays bare the reality of how women are prone to say sorry over everything or ‘Sunday Brunch’ which is basically another opportunity for a desi aunty to rope in her next prey for a marriage proposal, the simple language and the collective themes in the collection promises to be a familiar and personal experience for an urban, middle class audience.
Replying to moderator and freelance writer on pop culture Ahmer Naqvi’s question at the launch of her book at T2f on Friday, Salman said poetry comes more naturally to her as a medium of art as opposed to short stories or fiction. What appeals to her more is that poetry is rhythmically musical. “They are a short form to read and send to people and even share on social media,” she said.
Further, through her poetry, Salman brings up contemporary conversations about gender. Like all women growing in Pakistan, her childhood to adulthood transition wasn’t an easy one, especially in terms of how she was perceived in the eyes of society. Recalling an incident from her childhood, she said her sister – whom she really looks up to – used to be outside playing and boys in cars would stop and throw paper chits with their phone numbers at her. “So when she stopped going outside, I also stopped and knew that we had to stay in,” she said.
The poem ‘
Hero Zero’ is about toxic masculinity and addresses men:
I wish your parents had allowed you to shed tears,
So, you wouldn’t fear your masculinity
And wear it like a cape,
Believing that your super power
Was the ability to make her cry
In all, the book is a light read, which will hit all the right chords with young women growing up in and outside Pakistan.
You can purchase the book here.