Book review by Carol J. Forrester.
“Nabeela Saghir titled her pamphlet ‘Let me make you something to eat‘ and I doubt she could have found a more perfect title.
There is an urge to read the poems aloud, to feel how the words roll around your mouth and taste on your tongue.
The shadows that lurk beneath the collection’s honeyed glaze are masterfully crafted, and it’s a pamphlet worth reading a few times just to find the careful links between pieces. Even with rereading, there is an elusiveness throughout the collection, that suggests we are only getting part of the story, a slice carved off from the orange, or a bite from the sugarcane. Saghir certainly knows how to leave her reader wanting more, while still creating poems that delight.
While it is near impossible to pick a favourite poem from those gathered in the pamphlet, ‘A dress for the living’ captures the essence of ‘Let me make you something to eat’ on a single page. The first line discards the traditional ideas of mourning beautifully: “Grief is spinning in a dress stitched by your mother’s mother”. Like with most of the poems, Saghir has written in this, it’s an opening line that paints a clear image and one that sticks with the reader even after the book has been put down. The first two lines are about loss, and the third is about hope, and the poem aches with love. Before Saghir tells us “the movement like a chant, a wave swaying, a chest rising” we have a sense of ritual, and calm, methodical preparation. Not a word is wasted in creating images that feel almost physical and tangible. If I had to pick one word to describe the poems as a whole, it would be tactile. Tactile in the best way possible, and to the point where I might have to raid the kitchen.
Food, and the memories that it can evoke, have been used time and time again in poetry, but none of the poems in this collection felt tired or repetitive. They also feel universal in the way that generation connections, show through in our food, and our memories. Saghit also shows how a poem can take an image, and stretch it to touch upon a whole host of topics. It’s delicious and thought-provoking, and it makes me want to read more the second I put the book down again.”
Carol J Forrester is a poet, lover of history, and a bit of a book dragon. The shelves in her house are threatening to go on strike, yet she insists on buying more books, and worst of all, writing her own. If it’s printed she wants it. If it’s about women, history, or myth, she may snatch your hand if to have it. Her own collection ‘It’s All In The Blood’ was published in 2019, and her second collection ‘Stone Tongued’ is scheduled for March 2024.