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by Uma Menon

Pub Date: Nov. 17th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-77415-008-5
Publisher: Mawenzi House

In this poetry collection, an unnamed Indian American narrator grapples with issues of motherhood, daughterhood, home, and language.

The poems loosely trace the young woman’s migration from India to the United States, where she experiences life in Florida and Wisconsin. She mourns the loss of Malayalam, her first language. As the narrator grows, her feelings of alienation in both the United States and India intensify until she feels that she belongs nowhere. The poems balance imagery from both cultural backgrounds, drawing as well on both Muslim and Hindu influences, thus intensifying the feeling of straddling different worlds. Many of the poems are formed into shapes that reflect the text: The most notable of these is the first, “Prelude,” which is shaped like the silhouette of a pregnant belly. Some of the poems shimmer with innovative lyricism and emotional vulnerability. Sixteen-year-old Menon is particularly strong when she is narrating specific moments, such as buying vegetables for the first time in English, and when she is writing about her anger and dislocation. Unfortunately, other poems tend toward the clichéd, and the collection does not feel like it comes to any kind of resolution, emotional or otherwise. Still, the book is a solid debut, with moments of real promise.

An immigration-themed poetry collection written from an Indian American perspective.

(Poetry. 14-18)