Besharam by Nafeesa Hamid
Learning that your mind and body have been taken hostage is one thing. Learning how to take them back is another. What if those that are returned are different to the ones that were lost?
Besharam - Nafeesa Hamid’s glorious debut collection – asks this and many other questions. When does a girl become a woman? When does her world allow her to become a woman? And what kind of woman should she be? The answers aren’t readily forthcoming.
As she treads the shifting line between woman and daughter, between Pakistan and the West, between conservative Islam and liberal, Nafeesa has almost had to find a new language to try to communicate the difficulties of her situation. And what a language! At times hard and pointed, at other times wonderfully and colourfully evocative, erupting with femininity, empowerment and rebellion. It is this language that makes Besharam such a pleasure to read in spite of the pain it contains.
Nafeesa Hamid is a British Pakistani spoken word poet and playwright based in Birmingham. Her work covers taboo themes such as sex, domestic violence and mental health, using personal experience as a basis for her writing. Nafeesa has been writing and performing for 6 years at nights around the UK. She has featured at Outspoken (London), Poetry is Dead Good (Nottingham), Find the Right Words (Leicester) and Hit The Ode (Birmingham). She was invited as a performer at TedxBrum 2016 (Power of Us). Nafeesa has also performed at Cheltenham and Manchester Literature Festivals as part of The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write, a recent (2017) anthology publication by Saqi Books, edited by Sabrina Mahfouz. She is alumni of Mouthy Poets and Derby Theatre Graduate Associate Artists.
Rooh by Rupinder Kaur
For Rupinder Kaur, writing, along with any other art form, should be azaad – free: free to express what the artist wants or needs to say, without any censorship. Rupinder is known for speaking her mind and this is reflected in her poems.
In Rooh, her debut poetry collection, she takes us on a poetic journey that transcends borders and arbitrary boundaries of subject and style. Her work straddles English and Punjabi culture – fusing words from Punjabi, Hindi and Urdu and English. Her poems look at love, religion, identity, politics, history, taboos, society – often questioning orthodox views, particularly around the roles that different genders are expected to adopt. Rooh has a grand scope, and stares unblinkingly at the world. It is a stunning first collection from this young, intelligent poet.
To reflect these concerns the poems in Rooh have been detatched from their own moorings, to become and single river of verse. A river that by turns widens and narrows, meanders and charges rapidly onwards, that is contained when it isn’t breaking its bounds. The poems move with the freedom that Rupinder wishes she could see in the world around her, and with this in mind, this book can be read in one long sitting or can be dipped into and out of like a cold river on a hot day, as your own rooh or soul dictates.
Rupinder Kaur is a Birmingham born Panjabi poet and biomedical science student with an immense love for South Asian arts. She sees writing and reading poetry as a way to liberate the soul.
Please note: Rupinder Kaur is not the same poet who has published the collections Milk & Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers.