Saturday, December 18, 2010

Poetry Express

Some Moments of Love by Hamza Hassan Sheikh
(Shirkat Press);
Reviewed by Carolyn O’Connell
This first collection by Hamza Hassan Sheikh, a Pakistani poet from D. I. Khan, is reminiscent of the romantic genre in that it is a sequence of poems on the theme of love. Do not reject it because of that, it is truly modern and absorbing. His use of metaphor is direct, often harsh as in the opening poem ‘Crystalline Eyes’ which starts ‘The moment my eyes crashed with hers, /I was captured by the cage/ of her blue and crystalline/eternally.’ The combination of ‘crashed’ with ‘cage’ and ‘crystalline’ is as taught as any to be found in new publications yet contains echoes of the English cannon. The poems turn from joy to sorrow as they are read, particularly in the first half of the book. Do they record the life of the young man or are they directed to the ideal, we do not know, but they are none the less pertinent? Some of the poems have taken small instances such as ‘Empty Goblets’ or ‘A Lily Flower’ and turned them into exquisite Sapphic and rubaic verse that doesnot appear to be directed at any one lover but is true of all our loves. The title poem ‘Some Moments of Love’ is in my opinion the epitome of the sapphic, relating to our cannon. ‘In her Search’ will be relevant to any that mourn after the tsunami? I found this a book to keep by the bedside, to lift one up, or to find an appropriate poem. I do not know whether Hamza Hassan writes in English or whether this is a translation. His writing spans continents, culture and time.

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