Review of "TRUE COLOURS" by: Luiza Sadowski

Review of ‘True Colours’ From the Universe to the Inner Mind, a collection of poems by Zohra Zoberi, recipient of the 2011 Literary Arts Award from the Mississauga Arts Council.

This past May 31, the Mississauga Arts Council (MAC) was honoured to have Zohra Zoberi at the MARTY Awards, a recipient of the 2011 MARTY Award in the Established Literary Arts category. This was an exceptional awards ceremony for MAC because we are celebrating the organization's 30 years this year and as a tribute, we did a retrospective theme at this year's 18th annual ceremony, honouring all of the past MARTYS winners from the award's inception in 1994.

‘True Colours’-- From the Universe to the Inner Mind, is a beautiful compilation of poems that draw a true depiction of different cultures and life's journeys as experienced by author Zohra Zoberi herself. Having traveled to over 36 countries, Zoberi offers a fresh new perspective into the lives of people in different parts of our vast world. This is a great read for traveling and when on vacation, as I myself had a glimpse into some of the poems while traveling abroad. I was instantly drawn into some poems which spoke to me and I think that anyone who picks up this book can find a selection of poems they can connect with in some way, shape or form.  I think each and every one of us can relate to different cultures and religions, irrespective of what their beliefs are.

In Zoberi's author's note, she begins with a Persian saying which translates as: "holding someone's heart in your hand is the greatest pilgramage you can make." With a passion and love for traveling myself, I think the expression has a lot of truth in it. Some of the poems that I found particularly inspiring were ones with great analogies and metaphors about love and relationships. I've included some excerpts from poems I thought were very captivating and written in an especially eloquent way, incorporating expressions we can all live by.

Willingly I gave him full access
to my personal computer, my mind
his password being my heart
folder on emotions he frequently accessed
Together we created wonderful stories
and some- not so good
 
Life's about downloading pleasant memories
deleting the unpleasant
 
Excerpt from ‘Password’...page 17

Our hearts can be vulnerable when we put down our protective guard in letting someone in on our thoughts and emotions and I think this poem addressed these issues very well. It's important to cherish the good memories and release the unpleasant from our "memory" folder, isn't it?

The next poem, Friendship’ (page 27) alludes to a friendship that I have cultivated in the last 10 years and my recent travels have fortified this connection but I'm sure anyone that reads it can make their own personal attachment to it.

Opposite ends of a precious chain
far apart and yet well linked
wrapped in a velvet pouch
tucked away inside my jewellery box
 
Once in a blue moon
when this chain is worn
the two ends are so well-clasped
this bond is stronger than
all other links

I did a high school exchange about 10 years ago with a girl in France who I connected with instantly. We share similar interests, hobbies and career goals and I can honestly say that to this day we have still been able to maintain a strong friendship. Even though we can only see each other every few years, when we get together, we reminisce about all of our childhood memories and it never seems like any time has lapsed in our precious bond, like the metaphor to the chain in this poem, "far apart and yet well linked."

Walking by the beautiful Costa Brava in Spain, I couldn't help but reflect on Zohra’s poem ‘By the Seashore’ (page 29) and how its moments like these that we should seize and almost imprint in our mind. This is one of my favourites in the book! Here's another taste... 

If life were comprised
of just a few days
seasons lasted but a few hours
spring, summer and fall
spells of sunshine disrupted by sporadic rain
followed by short-lived thunder
and then... calm
I would seize each and every moment to its fullest
Or would I?
 
Along the seashore I walk holding hands
with my inner thoughts- my intimate friends
Waves surging
like desires from within
one after another
breaking upon the shore
like my fantasies before fully evolving
again and again in constant retreat
 
In the heat of the moment
blazing sun looks down upon me
as I walk along with my feet barely wet
 
Clothed in my inhibitions, apprehensive
reluctant to take a plunge
into the ocean of spontaneous pleasures
But why?

 

Powerful words, aren't they? I myself was standing on the stunning beach of Santa Cristina in Blanes, Spain and hesitated to dive into the beautiful turquoise Mediterranean Sea, but why? Good question. Maybe I have finally come to a point in my life where I should seize spontaneous moments like these and release myself of all inhibitions and just take that plunge into a whirlpool of opportunities, as they may lead to more than I could ever myself imagine.  

On the theme of opportunities brings me to my next poem excerpt, from ‘Editing Myself’   (page 63).

I delete the Yes and retain a No
Editing myself at this stage
is like deleting a beautiful chapter of my life
before I begin to write it
Perhaps it's in our best interest
 
Isn't life but a first draft?
We edit as we go along

What a beautiful comparison to how we write the story of our lives. In life, we all have the power to better ourselves and grow as individuals on a daily basis, whatever our goals and aspirations may be for the future. Maybe it's spending more time with the family or exploring new endeavours? Whatever they may be, each and every one of us can pick up a pen and start writing the next chapter of our life. 

Going through the extensive collections of Zohra's poems can lead to having an epiphany. Sometimes a certain word, phrase or paragraph has the capacity to trigger an emotion, a feeling, a thought that has been lying just beneath the surface of our conscious mind. 

Some of Zohra's poems also touch on the effects of technology and its negative impacts on our social lives.Time Theft’ (page 80) was so captivating that it was translated into Romanian and recited by a student on Canada-Romania Friendship Day in 2009. Here's a little insight: 

Time I could have spent
reading by choice
creating instinct
listening to my favourite lyrics
or simply being lost
in my own fantasy world

Whatever your culture, you can find a poem in True Colours that will reflect your inner colour or passion.Hyphenated Canadian’ (page 84) can relate to anyone that has immigrated to Canada from a different country, and with over 150 cultures in Toronto alone, I'm sure excerpts of this poem would also apply to you. 

I would love to go on, but I definitely encourage everyone to pick up one of Zohra Zoberi's latest books because you will be drawn into a world of your own aspirations and reflections of this journey of our lives. 

 

Review by: Reva Stern, Author, Director and Freelance Copy Editor

“As Zohra Zoberi sees it, the world is a complex yet beautiful place where family is sacrosanct and outside conflicts are viewed as challenges to our integrity, loyalty and love. Zohra is an eclectic writer who sees in our universe the potential for good to prevail.

Through poetry, she shares the beauty she finds in extraordinary places, the passion she feels for family and community, and she offers us moral lessons without pummelling us with the sting of persecution. Her poems are sometimes warm and joyful and sometimes rife with the reality of tragedy and loss. This poet offers contemplative moments for every reader to ponder.”

 

Review by: Linda Thomas, Executive Director, Mississauga Arts Council

“A look at the diversity of life experiences through the eyes of a creative and insightful writer. Zohra’s words provoke awareness, enticing to explore, question and look within us for our lessons. We each look at life through our own unique lens. Thank you, Zohra, for sharing your glasses with us.”

 

Review by: Dr. K. Sohail, Psychotherapist, Author & a Philosopher  

“Zohra Zoberi’s poems are symbols of love, peace and harmony and she is well-deserving to be called an Ambassador of Peace that builds bridges between different communities and cultures. No wonder she is the director of an organization titled Bridging the Gap. She is the poet who acts locally but thinks globally. She is well aware that the whole world is connected with the invisible threads of social media in the 21st century and the pain and suffering of one human being can be communicated and felt by the whole humanity. She is aware that we need to open our hearts and minds for suffering men, women and children from other parts of the world so that we can respond with caring and compassion and feel as an integral part of the whole humanity, a human family, that I call family of the heart, and create a peaceful world together. In her recent book True Colours, Zohra Zoberi, alongside many other social and cultural issues, highlights the dilemmas and dreams, struggles and sufferings of women, especially Eastern women, from their youth to old age, from getting married to getting divorced, from falling in love to falling out of love, from believing in men in their lives to believing in themselves.”   

 

Review by: Ms. Luiza Sadowski, Mississauga Arts Council

“Going through the extensive collections of Zohra's poems can lead to having an epiphany. Sometimes a certain word, phrase or paragraph has the capacity to trigger an emotion, a feeling, a thought that has been lying just beneath the surface of our conscious mind. I definitely encourage everyone to pick up one of Zohra Zoberi's latest books because you will be drawn into a world of your own aspirations and reflections of this journey of our lives.