“When I came up with the title Sense Me, it was supposed to be a title that encompasses everything. I wanted people to sense my words completely. By being able to touch them on paper, by reading the words, by feeling the words, by hearing them (especially as some are spoken words) and also have them leave an after taste. I wanted the book to feel holistic, so the reader too can feel complete” says Annum Salman recalling her journey with FUCHSIA.
Annum’s brainchild, her debut poetry book, Sense Me was originally published in the UK and recently launched in Karachi.
“You are loved”
I will write this on a notebook on ink
And hope you fall asleep on an open page
Have the words sink as they print
Onto your face,
So every time you see your reflection
You can know
Somebody loves you.
You’re never alone.
-You Are Loved
Why You Should Read ‘Sense Me’
Sense Me encloses within it a universe of enthralling experiences. Its visually captivating cover is just the start of the cosmos that awaits the reader. Having read the entire book in almost under an hour, I was astounded by the variety of themes the author manages to incorporate in such short verses. The length of the poems varies, some as short as two lines and some as long as a few pages, but all of them worth the read.
Annum’s voice resonates with every brown girl in the South Asian region trying to formulate or even as much as gather her thoughts. Her themes range from love and abuse to oppression and racism and even mental health. And she very eloquently packages all of them in her lived experiences. Being a spoken word poet, Annum also employs an array of informal words, or rather, words that aren’t normally used in formal written verses.
Annums’s bold take on racism and our never-ending colonial hang-over in her piece ‘Anna’ felt apt, the paradox she explains:
“Anna, you speak the language of those who had conquered your land before you had been born,
Today, you can write an essay on the effects of colonization in words that aren’t even your own
Anna, you often forget the difference between you and your friends until you have a form to fill in, with ten extra questions specific to you.”
The vivid picture of emotional labor the author paints of women paying the price for being themselves is evidently prompted by her lived experiences in a society woven into the fabric of patriarchy. Perhaps through her poetry, one of the things Salman tries to do is, help understand and own our experiences as part of our identities.
She does something similar in her piece ‘Apology’, which starts off with:
“When I was born,
My mother whispered, “Sorry” into my ear instead of a prayer.
It stuck to my tongue like a catchphrase
That I could gift wrap and present
As a penance for mistakes I was never sure I made”.
‘Apology’, from start to finish is an excellent representation of what it is like to be a woman in a society dominated by men.
I was just trying to achieve acceptance. Acceptance for being a woman, being brown, being loud, being anxious and depressed, and acceptance for being allowed to feel however we want to feel without judgement.
Her piece titled ‘Lineage’, resonated with me deeply after ‘Anna’ and ‘Apology’.
“I come from a generation of women who sat, cross-legged, uncomfortably,
Women who shushed each other when one of them tried to speak,
who locked their lips, tied their ankles and dropped the keys into pockets of coats they weren’t allowed to wear”.
Womanhood, body shaming, social stigma, the laments of diaspora, dilemmas, stereotypes, alienation, and isolation are burdens that come together as tangible feelings to make “Sense Me” everything that it is. Not to forget the very alluring illustrations by Aaiza Alam which keep the reader engrossed in Salman’s descriptive verses.
But the mundanity of Salman’s staple is what reverberated with me the most. The anguish, the echo, the restlessness of her voice that screams yet draws only enough attention to keep the reader engrossed throughout. The book, however, is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Multiple similar themes come up in different pieces, that leaves a rather bad after-taste but regardless, the book does its fair share in jotting down raw feelings of the author. It is quite frankly very refreshing to encounter voices that do not succumb to societal pressures and stand-up for what they believe in. Annum does the same and we commend her for her bravery.
We wish the author success in her future endeavors and hope to read more of what she has to say.
The book can be purchased at all Liberty stores across the country. To place an order online, click here.
Maryam’s a Communication and Design major and an English and Comparative Literature minor at Habib University. She thoroughly enjoys reading South Asian Literature and is a Partition Literature enthusiast, who is often found admiring the origins of cultural theory.
While one may occasionally find her at events catering to art and culture in Karachi, she would much rather be home binge-watching British comedy.
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