Full disclosure: I was given a free PDF copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Since April is National Poetry Month, I wanted to try my hand reading and reviewing poetry. I oversee the poetry collection at the one of the libraries I work at, so it makes sense to get to know that specific genre even more. Luckily, Divan of Shah by Shah Asah Rizvi – a collection of 106 poems that mainly tackle the topics of love and dance – is a good gateway into this category.
I don’t know a whole lot in what makes good poetry from a technical standpoint (like the rhythm), so a lot of this review is going to focus on its format, how comprehensible it is, and how much it held my interest. The collection consists not only of poems, but also of quotes. The quotes are usually inspirational and relate to the poems in one way or another. I say that because some are pretty obvious like how the quote “Life has meaning until the weight of moments is carried by the protection, encouragement, nurturing, presence and love of a mother” leads into an ode about mothers, yet some are a little more tricky to connect like “Dance to inspire, dance to freedom, life is about experiences so, dance and let yourself become free” to a poem about wondering where someone has gone. It is up to the reader to make those correlations.
In addition, it would have been nice for the poems to have sections that indicated the theme because it seems to jump all over the place. While this does make the collection more interesting because one wouldn’t know what the poem will discuss, organizing them by topic would have been better structure wise.
A lot of the language that Asah Rizvi uses is simple and non-rhyming. These poems are like pop songs in their lyrical simplicity, but with the tone of a sonnet. In other words, they are easy to understand, but they are also elegant. This kind of language makes it clear of what emotion or topic each of the poems convey without being excruciatingly obvious. Additionally, the non-rhyming aspect allows the author to say what he wants more outright. I bet he did it those ways, so people, including those who don’t usually read poetry like me, could appreciate the effort that he put into the work. And, it shows.
As I mentioned earlier, these poems were about love and dance, and at first, they seem to be about different aspects of the former like longing and sensations as well as about the feelings related to the latter. Some of my favorites were “Foreplay”, “Mother”, “Let Us Dance”, and “Disappear”. However, as I read on, I noticed that a lot of the poems became more about the same aspects but said differently. This lessened my interest, but not by much. I really like the illustrations that accompany each of the poems like “Limitless Love” has the infinity symbol and the “Venom Passion” has a burning heart icon.
All in all, Divan of Shah by Shah Asad Rizvi is a very accessible poetry collection that centers on the topics of love and dance. He definitely has the passion, which undoubtedly fuels his drive to write poems. Even though I had some minor complaints about it, I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking to get into poetry as well as to those who have loved the genre for a long time. I look forward to how he expands his horizons, and ventures into other topics.
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