A debut poetry collection that offers a compelling call to love—and to action.
Das’ father is a labor leader and an organizer who’s devoted his life to fighting for the rights of workers. For the author, he’s both a model and an inspiration, and she understands her own poetry like she does her father’s advocacy—as “revolutionary.” Accordingly, she says in a preface that her verse’s purpose is to “highlight the grievances of the people, [and] to inspire youths to fight against the evils of the society.” Thus, many of her poems read like moving appeals to change and be changed. Readers experience such writing in the later passages of the pointedly titled “Call for a Revolution”: “Millions laid down their life / And rivers of blood flowed by, / And then finally the stars of freedom / Were found to shine in the sky.” Here and elsewhere, poetry is politics, and Das’ stanzas challenge readers to man the barricades. But the collection is not all rebellion and revolt. Its motivating theme is passion, so sometimes Das waxes romantic. In “Let thy love be my Inspiration,” she writes, “Let thy love come to me in such form oh dear- / So that it shakes off from my heart / All shame and all fear; / So that it brings me from dark / To ever-augmenting luminosity.” Das leans lightly on end rhyme here, and matches like “dear” and “fear” string lines together without sounding too singsong. At other times, her verse is aphoristic, like something from Khalil Gibran or François de La Rochefoucauld. Here, then, is the entirety of her poem “Pain”: “Pain gives a purpose to live for; / Which happiness does suffer-.” In such pieces, the author’s poetry is admirably concise, compressing meaning into just a few words. The effect is moving, and these brief pieces make a nice counterweight to her longer works.
Das captivates in a work that pricks the heart and stirs the soul.