Saaleha Idrees Bamjee
are not big enough
to grasp prayer,
my tongue not loose enough
to utter them.
To be resolute in faith – in God, in oneself – in times of grief and disappointment. To unapologetically assert one's woman- and personhood in a society that attempts to devalue both. To seek hidden parts of yourself, both new and forgotten, through the memories and words of other people.
In Zikr's beguilingly measured and covertly powerful poems, Saaleha Idrees Bamjee achieves these often difficult tasks. In doing so, Bamjee introduces new idioms and understandings of Muslim identity to South African poetry – yet not through manifesto, nor outright polemic. This is a collection of fine metaphors, concrete turns of phrase, and a refreshing specificity of image, place, and self.
Saaleha Idrees Bamjee, born in 1983, is a photographer and writer based in Johannesburg. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Rhodes University and is the winner of the 2014 Writivism Short Story Prize. Zikr is her first collection of poems.