Cocoa Truths : A Collection of Poems
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Reviewed by – Anu Lal
The previous day I came across an article titled something like this: ‘All Those On The Internet Shouldn’t Write A Book’;. I did not have the time to read the article in detail. The title is not accurate in my reproduction here either. I skimmed the article and realized that it was an attempt to delineate literature and online writing or copywriting so to speak. Copywriting is probably a redundant word. Content writing is the zeitgeist. If you can bang out a particular number of words within a time limit and make those words sound fashionable, you can be a successful content writer. But if you cannot tell a story properly or if your words cannot move a person in the spirit your narrative fails.
Read Sadiya Sultana’s new collection of “bittersweet truths”; and you’d realize what I mean. The collection is titled Cocoa Truths. One of the poems titled ‘Promise’ moves with a mysterious rhythm. A teardrop rolled to a corner of my eyes perhaps by being reminded of a near-loss or a faulty promise.
This beautiful collection has twenty poems. Published by BookLeaf Publishing, it’s a small but remarkable collection. Sadiya Sultana has worked with Finance and Human Resources. Originally from Bangalore, India she currently resides in Dubai. She writes poetry in both English and Urdu language.
The narrator in all poems in Cocoa Truths appears to be a female. Her anxieties, joys, pain, and hope reach us through the exuberant free verses. These poems do not follow a metre. Lyrical verses flow into the folds of your consciousness seeping through the layers of imagination stirred by the poet. Lyrical quality is at the core of her poetry.
The first poem titled ‘Coffee Date’ carried a romantic tone. The nature of the narrator is not clear. I could not tell if it's a man or a woman. This scenario renders the poem a subtle life of existence in the grey areas in culture. ‘Coffee Date’ offers multiple levels of reading.
The second poem, ‘The Day it All Began’ makes the reader feel the warmth of love. Two lovers are celebrating their togetherness. This poem celebrates the force of love and tells us how incapable we are to resist the charm of romance. ‘Simple Desires’, the third poem in the river of words celebrates a release that one experiences while being physically close to one’s beloved one. Sultana using very few words indeed engraves the simple desires that a lover cherishes of her partner. These simple desires are often missed by the fast-paced life of profit-loss and success-failure calculations. The fourth poem is ‘Promise’. The fifth one is ‘Precious firsts’. Sadiya Sultana in just four lines elaborates the most precious moment of an individual’s life. The poem is as sweet as well as fleeting as the experience it narrates.
‘Favourite Comforters’ is the next poem. ‘The Sexy Thief’ follows it. The eighth poem is ‘Some crushed hearts change decisions for the better’. Poem nine is ‘Apologize’. In ‘Some crushed hearts change decisions for the better’ and ‘Apologize’, Sadiya Sultana narrates “love’s own gravitational force” that intervenes with our lives and makes us a bit wiser. ‘Hold me’ is the tenth poem. ‘Treasured Adventures’ and ‘What sparks your heart?’ follow. ‘Treasured Adventures’ is my next favourite as it is a poem about making reconciliations with the past. Or rather I should say that is how I read it. ‘Savings’ is the thirteenth poem. ‘Fulfilled Wishes’ is the fourteenth one. ‘Savings’ is a poem with a powerful message that could make you dream about Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass’ and think about Wayne Dyer’s philosophy. On the outset, adorned in simplicity, ‘Savings’ opens up a thought-provoking possibility for its reader. “I’d rather sit and gobble up my present little treasure,” the narrator says. The poems that follow are: ‘Adieu’, ‘Expressing Love,’ ‘Airports and Goodbyes’, ‘A poem to myself,’ ‘Desire someone witty?’, and ‘Casanova’.
Literature is communication in distilled words, aiming at a certain idea. But Sadiya Sultana’s poetry is more than just communicating the ideas. She inspires the reader. This I believe is a unique quality in her poems that help her stand with the stalwarts of Indian poetry in English. Her poetry does not draw its inspiration from imitating other writers from the west. The unique voice of Sadiya Sultana is what readers would want to hear again and again, in her sequels to Cocoa Truths.
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