Unforunately, Muslim Poetry is an art form that seems to be a thing of the past; rarely do modern Muslim poets get the attention that they deserve.
Total Freedom (excerpt)
The peace of my dreams do not even lie
in vain but in calamity
rising through disheveled rules
that supposedly cautions a society,
failing to do so by a stubborn darkness
that penetrates itself until the brave happiness
that caresses existence,
yet I am forevermore determined
to figure out the definition
of my fears and strengths alike
for my soul’s total freedom
The script barely seems like that of a teenager, yet these verses were penned by Ayesha Raza when she was only 16. Ayesha’s entire collection of poems, published as Total Freedom, took her less than fi ve months to complete after having only been writing poetry for about a year prior to that! The trigger for her to publish a book came after gaining a National Scholastic Art & Writing Award. Prior to this she was not really that serious, but was encouraged by her 10th grade English teacher at Providence High School here in Charlotte, NC. Of course, she was encouraged by her mother who saw great potential.
When I sat down to talk with Ayesha and her mother, Syeda, about this accomplishment of having a book published and circulated internationally before she’d even graduated high school; I couldn’t help but notice the beaming pride of Syeda never faltered. It came as small surprise that Ayesha dedicated the book to her mother, but a greater reveal was the fact that her family has a heritage of poetry. Ayesha’s grandfather held an MA of literature with the focus in English & Urdu poetry which inspired Syeda to also write poetry through her teenage and college years.
Come To Me (Excerpt)
Mother of Love, come to me.
set our home ablaze
with the fresh passion you ignite every day,
so I won’t feel tortured under the heavy burden
that is simply called life,
yet I think it’s a blameless abduction.
Ayesha says that she draws inspiration from scenes of daily life, her own encounters, those she hears about and the reflections of nature in the world around her. As with all good writers, she is an avid reader and enjoys the works of Sylvia Plath, Toni Morrison and transcendentalist writers such as Emerson and Frost. The philosopher poets who wrote commentaries on the bonds of nature to humans and expressed passionate thoughts which fed from raw emotion continue to inspire Ayesha.
“Writing poetry is actually a new adventure for me and I really enjoy it.” says Ayesha. This declaration surprised her family, as her academic pursuits have been heavily focused on mathematics and science. In fact, Ayesha intends to pursue a degree in mathematics after graduating high school and professes a strong love for calculus. However, her mother has said that she will continue to encourage Ayesha to pursue writing further and to let her voice grow.
Such voices should be fostered from our community as the stories and voices of Muslim Americans have to be told by each successive generation. Insha’Allah Ayesha’s poetry will inspire others to make their voices heard so that mainstream media will pay attention to the power of the stories and explore the verses that we can share.
Ayesha Raza’s collection of poetry entitled Total Freedom can be purchased online at Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com or the publisher’s website at EsquirePublications.com