Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mapping Me - Book Review

Mapping Me: A Landscape of Women's Stories, edited by Tamara Azizian, is a collection of 40 pieces written by 40 women from across the globe. The pieces vary between poetry, short stories, thoughts, and include a scene from a play. Mapping Me is divided into sections depending on the main themes tackled with stunningly beautiful artwork at the beginning of each section.
This collection boasts many amazing pieces and I have tried to select the best of them to mention here.

Mapping Me opens with an introduction and the sections of the book, which is then followed by the first artwork called 'Take a Chance' by Ira Mitchell. The colours, the brush strokes, everything about that painting is just dazzling.
'Tiny Atom' by Abha Iyengar is a staggeringly brave story; short, to the point and highly emotional.
'Undersea', by Shahilla Sharif, is a wonderful poem that opens with these breath-taking lines "I should have deciphered our prophecy/in the mythology of our meeting". The words are carefully chosen throughout. 'Undersea' is one of the best poems I have ever read and certainly one of the best in Mapping Me. It is as sad as it is magical.
'Holding the Man', by Sharanya Manivannam, is an excellent story. It is well written, vivid and explicit. It is a story though, not a poem – in my opinion.
One of the pieces, in this collection, is a scene from a play called 'Happy Birthday Li'l Eagle' by Sia Figid. A confrontation between mother and daughter, the scene is beautiful and carries many messages. It is obviously a climactic scene in the play with many stunning lines and speeches. It is a scene about children, love and life. A 10-star piece.
'Mama Wearies then Brightens' by Gloria J. Wimberley is a short, funny and enjoyable poem, which I'm sure many can relate to.

'Bloodless' by Zara Potts is unlike anything I've ever read. It is deep and emotional, despite the apparent 'unemotional' and "bloodless" word choice. I loved these thought-provoking words "There is freedom in acceptance. Fighting only tightens the ropes and makes it harder to release yourself." And the conclusion: "even barren fields can still be beautiful and [a] fruitless tree can still have roots." A must read.
'The Mother', by Cheryl S. Ntumy, is a heart-wrenching piece of endurance, pain, suffering, love and persistence.
Denise Donaldson's 'A Bra Story' is an enjoyable, interesting story with a lovely ending.
'Full Arms and Underarms', by Farha Hasan, is a funny short story about something all women experience: Waxing! It is a very interesting story topic; one that is brilliantly handled with a lot of humour.
'Thoughts in the Dark', by Somaya El Sousi from Gaza, is an amazing must-read piece with many beautiful lines. Similarly, 'Fear', by Danijela Hlis, is an excellent poem about Alzheimer's. A five-star piece.

Tania Haberland's 'My Grandmother's Art' is a beautiful and highly artistic piece. I truly enjoyed the word choice and flow.
'Paper Confessions' by Shabnam Piryaei is a poem of stunning imagery and an equally staggering opening verse: regret and guilt follow me/ as if I were their mother/ stroking with the dissolved edges of a punished whisper my arms,/ singing to themselves/ lullabies made of dead bees/ as if each does not know the other exists.

The Matrimonial Clock by Shweta Ganesh Kumar is an excellent story, very modern and applicable to many third world countries and societies. It is brilliantly told. “[it] as if, the future of the world depended on her marital status.” This line hit a chord, many in fact. And I'm sure many can relate to it as well. Five stars to this one.

'Inside the Ring - The Diary', by Batsirai Easther Chigama, is another excellent piece, sad and painful at first, but with a great conclusion. Tough decisions take time, especially when children are involved; this five-star-story stresses this point. 

'Serepta', by Jessica Loomis, is another beautiful and subtle story about women and the pressures they endure because of society. It is also an excellent conclusion to the Mapping Me collection. 

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