This was a very good readathon for the beginning of the year, considering how often I tend to take a dive in my bookshelf and resurface after a couple of days, Jumanji style. Hence why my blog posts are on and off the grid.
The Off the Grid readathon is a quarterly event; the last one happened between 11 January – 13 January 2019.
For this readathon I chose two poetry books and one travel book, as I do enjoy the crème de la crème of fiction, and in my opinion that is poetry and travel literature. I also read it while on a short trip, so it fit. The authors are my age (Rupi & Andrei) and a generation older than me (Phil). Exactly what the doctor recommended, alongside my off the grid breath of fresh air, some literature to refresh my taste buds. Without any further ado, here are my reviews.
Date & Time by Phil Kaye
In tone with the theme of the marathon, his volume includes immigrant poetry, a nostalgic what-if semblance of a life recalled at an abrupt rhythm. Although he did not experience the uprooting first-hand, he shows a silent understanding of the phenomenon. He finds magic in all of the words that surround him and interact with him, whether he’s talking back (The author & the author at 7 years old choose a movie to watch), listening to their musicality (Canyon) or enjoying a machine’s solipsistic soliloquy (Internet speaks back to the author, 2018). In order to read Phil, you have to hear him. I stumbled upon his work when I was going through Sarah Kay’s videography (see above) and listened to them speaking their souls. Thus, upon reading the book, I was lucky enough to hear his recitations while perusing the written word, which only enriched the experience. Camaro, one of the other poems in the book, is the poem of remembrance – one of these intermediate, fleeting splits of a second that create life, an ode to epiphanies that we never feel the need to share because they create who we are. It is the mark of great poets and visual artists alike to capture ephemeral moments, and Phil does it wonderfully. On the other hand, if you’re one to focus on the detail rather than the feeling of a poem, I give you one turn of phrase that made me burst out laughing on the tube, getting some rather annoyed looks from the Friday morning commute crowd:
Montague must be so happy
we Capulet this all go
If you’re having trouble getting into poetry or prefer your text to be first and foremost digestible, do yourselves a favour and watch some of his spoken words representations. I guarantee you will be devouring his poetry in no time.
the sun and her flowers by Rupi Kaur
I am a strong believer in the fact that some books happen to you. They happen when you need them the most and they happen to have exactly what was missing from your clouded vision to give you a fresh glass of clear perspective. Rupi’s second volume is divided in five sections: wilting, falling, rooting, rising, and blooming. It also touches on the immigrant and language issue, just as Phil’s does, but also on matters of the heart (in a bite-size manner). Which is probably why her poems are a hit with millennials, and huge in the tumblr community (I realise it is the name of a social network and it should be capitalized, but I have been on that blasted website for more than a decade and at this point, it part of the ancient tumblr culture to write it so – but I digress). The book does, to use a phrase from the IP repertoire of my MA copyright law teacher, what is says on the tin. Each poem is a flower, big or small, radiating from Rupi in sections. By the time I made it to the final section, blooming, I was not ready to let go of the comfortable sadness she lays out for us to lather in – kind of like I feel whenever I take a relaxing evening bath and I have to prematurely leave its warm embrace. That being said, it does achieve tis purpose – to relieve you of your burden and flush you anew with healing feelings. I don’t need to tell you more about this book – Rupi’s following (3.5 million on Instagram) does it for me.
07:07 – with my soul in the East by Andrei Lasc
I am somewhat biased about this novel – its publication was possible due to crowdfunding, and I rushed to partake as soon as I found out. The author is a young Romanian that, like many others from my generation, is trying to find his way. As you start the book, you get a distinct feel of reading a male-narrated version of ‘Eat, pray, love’. While I was happy to read a travel book written by a man that, for once, wasn’t about the wartime history of the area or this very specific knowledge of the local scientific advancements, his introspection did hit a little too close to home. Although uprooted only temporarily for his holiday, he went through the same rollercoaster of emotions that every single immigrant my age experiences, and had that on top of everything else. Otherwise, he graciously described the human interactions he experienced, seasoned here and there with sprinkles of local cuisine that left my mouth watering in a very plodding, flavour-lacking field in rural England. I wish we’d translate more, or at least more books like this one would reach the English-speaking market, because this is the perfect beach read for the summer, all the while amassing sufficient cosiness for a winter wanderlust read by the fire. It is a book about self-discovery, guts and the glory of little things – knowing that you did your best to win your bread for the day. It’s a how-to-human read for the ones with a heavy heart, and by the end of the book, I wanted to it to keep going (badly). If it ever comes out in English, be sure I will be its biggest champion.
Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash