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What is Not Beautiful

  • Image: Image
  • Book Type: Poetry
  • by: Adeeba Shahid Talukder
  • Date Published: June 2018
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-9975805-9-4
  • Format: Chapbook
  • Pages: 40pp
  • Price: $8.50
  • Review by: DM O’Connor
where I am
farthest from my mother
waiting
               on 200th St

What is Not Beautiful is strikingly beautiful. Like the first snowflakes on a fallen autumn leaf, Adeeba Shahid Talukder’s words are delicate, insightful and sublime. In four sections, using mostly tercets and couplets, the surfacing themes are disorder and beauty. One of five poems with the same title, “Disorder,” concludes:

My love,
my life,
this is why I want to touch
every bit of you

to know you are real.

Minimal and fully using white space on the page, and not afraid to bare soul and heart, What is Not Beautiful investigates love. What does marriage do to a woman? (I search, again, for beauty. / It means something / else now.) What is marriage? (-you’d pulled me onto the stage with both / my hands and I knew nothing / nothing of balance-) What does disorder look like? (There is such little distance / between the brake and the gas.) What is beauty? (a constant state of unrest.) Talukder’s questions are the insights arrived at after a deep meditation: often un-answerable, sometimes responded to hypothetically, but always set sparse on the page.

In the second poem titled “Disorder,” the use of “I” anchors the logic:

I the most
I the least

I the beloved, the mirror
the world.

I the spring
of taut
and shudder

when water
congeals and breath,

breath
a fist
of gold

falls, falls
to quicksand.

Fleeting, tumbling, the poems are thought-trickles revolving around beauty, chaos, and transformation. If the reader is happy in the abstract, they will find great joy, much like reading Rumi or Wittgenstein. If the reader needs concrete detail to ground reality, frustration might be the result, almost like receiving riddles when asking for concrete advice. Regardless of result, these meditations are honest and bare, like a snowflake landing on a child’s eyelash, like that inner-voice whispering in the back of your head at the exact moment, like a beautiful poem on a white page:

She learns:
a rose cannot move

until it wilts. An idol
until it is felled.

She begins to wish,
like a river’s clear fist,

to rise.
                —from “On Beauty”
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Review Posted on November 01, 2018
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