Review of Speaking for Myself: An Anthology of Asian Women’s Writings

Last week, I made a bit of a fuss about how to refer to Afghans.  I was a little tired of people referring to Afghans as Afghani or Afghanistani.  Writer, Neesha Meminger, saw my post to the SAWCC listserve and  was kind enough to give me some ranting space and published the  email on her blog (Thank you!)

Okay, so after all that, this tough girl had to swallow the term “Afghanistani” in order to accept this lovely review of her poems in the wonderful collection: Speaking for Myself: An Anthology of Asian Women’s Writings (Oh the dilemmas of being from my landlocked, wartorn country!)

The Afghanistani writer Zohra Saed weaves pure magic with her short texts that blend poetry and story. ‘What the Scar Revealed…’ reads like pages from a poet’s diary and reminds you of Rimbaud’s intense world: ‘While the night is threaded in gold, the lost city in her navel unwinds itself from swirls of skin and slips over this new city like a fog.’ The companion piece ‘Voices: Archive of Spines’ paints an informal family get-together in bright, elusive images that create other-worldly luminosity out of the ordinary. But the great stakes are revealed only in the last line: ‘I taste the past from which we have escaped with our lives.’ History is never far away, always lying in ambush to pounce on you with undiminished ferocity.

Rajesh Kumar Sharma

Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 22, October 2009

As for being compared to Monsieur Rimbaud, I love it. The very first poetry books I owned as a teenager were: A Season in Hell and Drunken Boat by Arthur Rimbaud; Transformations by Anne Sexton; and a tri-poet anthology of Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine (Thanks to my literary and supportive father). I spent many many days cutting classes at Sheepshead Bay High School to read Rimbaud by the littered beaches of South Brooklyn, so I could train myself to become a poet.  Thank you Mr. Sharma for catching that and making me nostalgic.

It is truly one of the most comprehensive anthologies of Asian women’s writings!

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