It’s hard to talk about a powerful piece of work. It’s hard to give a comprehensive overview of it while also trying to impart the effect it had on me while reading. Such is the case with Nayyirah Waheed’s collection of poems, salt.
I call it a powerful piece of work because of how strongly I connected to it. It’s as if she was speaking to me, as if we had lived the same life and had the same experiences. Many facets of my life and personality is expressed in Waheed’s poems: my love of nature and art; my willingness to write; being Black and female; being an immigrant. It’s one of few books I’ve read and seen myself reflected back at me and for that I appreciate and treasure this collection of poems.
I must also thank Darkowaa, whose wonderful review of salt. drove me to pick it up and give it a try. I don’t regularly read poetry. In fact, I don’t like poems. My high-school AP classes scarred me in that regard. But I liked the poem Darkowaa highlighted in her review. It’s one of my favorites in the collection. Here it is:
do not die.
how am i
— the lie
And here are four more of my favorite poems from the collection:
you broke the ocean in
half to be here.
only to meet nothing that wants you.
take the art.
slice it from their skin.
leave the color behind.
— flower crowns and bob marley t-shirts
i am a black wave
a white sea.
— the difference
why can we never
about the blood.
the blood of our ancestors.
the blood of our history.
the blood between our legs.
Apart from the poem’s content, their structure also appealed to me. I like that they are short and direct, like small punches. They are like proverbs and other pithy sayings that I can carry with me throughout life. I also love the variety of the collection. Poems range from sweet, soothing, and dreamy to hard, direct, and tough. Short they may be, but they carry heavy emotions and deep meanings. I own an e-copy of the collection but now I have to get a physical copy. It’s a book I must own.
It’s a favorite and will probably be the only poetry collection I love. I highly recommend it to all.