This is Mahasty Eslahy’s first published book of poetry, she is a scholar with
an MA in Theatre and Dramatic Literature from Iran and an MA in Education from a
university in Ireland. Poet Eslahy is from Iran and was not able have her first
book of poetry published (although two of her plays were performed in college),
amongst issues of personal freedom she immigrated to Ireland. This book of
poetry is the story of an Iranian woman in Ireland, the struggle to learn the
language, the struggle for freedom and to practice her calling to be a writer
amongst the new culture and politics.
Through Gateways and Walls Refuge and Refugee begins with a narrative poem, To Be Me, an Immigrant, the poem begins:
“I am a human, a woman,
who didn’t want to live
in an oppressive landscape.
Hamid, I always heeded your words,
“man agar bar khizam, to agar bar khizi,
hame bar mikhizand”;
“If I stand up, if you stand up,
everyone will stand up”.”
in the powerful immigrants song, freedoms song there is the voice of a woman “a stranger, in a strange land” becoming. Her son is discriminated against,
“He didn’t want to be called “foreigner”,
was blaming me, kept saying to me,
“This is your fault, that’s your fault.”
I tried telling him that it’s a game,
one ‘f’ for fucking and the other ‘f’ for foreigner;
goes to say double ‘f’ which can be said ‘ff’;
it’s a game, it is a game…
“Mom are you crazy?”
And I said “yeah I’m crazy,
because I think there is no such thing as foreigner.
There are only us, there are we’s.
We are all just human beings.”
The poem is the story of frustration with the language, the new ways and discrimination by the local peoples. In the face of change she bravely tells the bare, honest truth, perhaps not always easy and champions understanding, creating dialogue and true democracy. In “Undoing Racism” is the wish to be seen for herself, her qualities, her essence, not someone categorized and classified according to skin colour, wealth or class. “Wishing for the appearance of freedom,/ away from coercion./ Wishing to be a horse/ or a fish, or flower.” In the book of poetry she plays upon the idea of being taken into the arms of her new motherland, Ireland, From My Soul to My Fingers –
“To be a citizen
A resident is not a citizen?
An overwhelming feeling of being a stranger here.”
“A white rose is growing there
Looking at the clouds
And clouds are making love
Creating beautiful drizzling rain
The rose is raising its branches
Enlarging and enlarging
Escalating to the sky
Accessing the birds
As they soar
Flying to the utmost
Toasting that essence of freedom
Abide, my soul, abide”
As if even with all the difference, the changes in everyday living, the newness of the green there is intense joy, celebration and even exaltation in hope. Occasionally there is whimsy as in Azi’s Bubbles:
“There are bubbles and Azi is tired.
She wants to go to her bed.
She sees bubbles all over the place.
Then, all the bubbles are there,
under her pillow.
They are bursting one by one,
and Azi goes to the bubble’s land,
safely secure inside one of them.”
Throughout the song of poetry is the innate essence of the Poet, a reflection of sun and flowers, a land of magic and pomegranates, reading the poetry is like biting into the large sweet fruit, the light of nectar. In Senobar it is as if she is remembering a beautiful spruce tree in her garden in Iran:
“Me and senobar, and Damavand
Will be there forever.
Hearing the songs of the bliss of birds,
Supposing, echoing in Arcadia,
Imagined by a mirror in the promised land.”
In Is that Loneliness:
“All the way
The wild roads
and in Discrimination and a Sense of Human Being:
“Dramatically a woman appeared,
just at the end of a cheerless story
Still slept and wasn’t sure that
the story was finished or had just started
And like the dolphins that sleep
She too had slept with open eyes.”
The haunting beauty in an exotic place opens itself as if glimpses of wholeness in a New Land, it is a celebration of the feminine essence. In this book of poetry she also writes about her father and love.
The cultural nuances of Poets celebrates peoples of different nationalities, it is a postcard of place and time and I imagine difficult to do in a second language English. However, Poet Eslahy has mastered the language and presented an elegant treatise on love and freedom, her first published book of poetry casts her as an emissary of light from the Middle East and specifically, Iran. This is a strong first work from Ms. Eslahy, Through Gateways and Walls Refuge and Refugee.
Available @ Amazon Canada. www.amazon.ca.
Available @ Amazon United States. www.amazon.com.
Available @ Amazon United Kingdom. www.amazon.co.uk.
and Melinda Cochrane International.
Genre: Poetry, Women's Literature