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Sense Me expands the realm of poetry in Pakistan

There is so much that we think about, so many questions we have to ask about ourselves and others. Questions that drive humanity in an innate, carnal way. Questions that resonate so deeply, we don’t know that they’re there until someone shines a light at them, illuminating all the questions sprawled on the walls of our insides.

“Maybe it wasn’t love. Maybe it was the need for someone to accept parts of us we could not digest.”

Type “poetry” into Instagram and you`ll find a slew of one or two lined pieces. These days, access to so called “Insta-poetry” is easier than ever. So, in a climate of excess, it’s refreshing when you find words that mean something.

Sense Me is the debut poetry collection by Annum Salman, and in it she talks about issues such as love, culture, identity, her role as a woman and mental health. Each question seems to leave you filled with a feeling so familiar, yet so poignant and phrased so articulately, that you can’t help but feel an odd sense of nostalgia when you`re done with each page.

It is brutally honest, for instance in Annum`s depiction of the legacy left for her by the line of women who have come before her in “Lineage”. You can often see anger behind words that seem to echo throughout the nation, anger that so many of us know so well. But amongst all this anger there is the voice of a love-sick child as well. Salman, not yet 30 years of age, captures a balance of youth and maturity that leaves so much weight behind her words it’s hard to put the book down at times.

That’s what sets Salman, and Sense me, apart. She is versatile. She jokes about being able to change the words of others in Autocorrect, she laments a broken home in The Elephant in the Room, she makes you feel sick with worry in Apologies and makes the homesick foreigner in you beam with pride in Accent. She makes you feel. She makes you confront those emotions you wish weren’t there, loss you didn’t want to feel, but I found myself walking around accounting her words for the rest of the day- “I ran home, to understand why I ran away”.

This versatility extends to form as well. Originally a spoken word author, with a litany of videos and performances under her belt- both in her home town of Karachi, Pakistan, and across the UK- Sense Me has many pieces that need to be spoke aloud, like Anna or Sorry, two of her most well-known pieces. However, alongside these you find the short sharp pieces, built to carry a punch with the weight of their words. And punch they do. Cliché is eight lines, but the words “no matter how many tears you pour, you cannot make a garden grow in drought” have etched themselves in me.

In Sense Me, Annum paints the picture of her life, her battles, and her views. Her rise on Instagram shows how deeply those who read her work seem to resonate with her, and I can see why.

I loved Sense Me, and I cannot recommend it enough.

You can purchase your copy from Liberty Bookstores across Pakistan or order it online.

The writer is a teacher based in the United Kingdom


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