4 out of 4 stars
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Poetry is an art, where creativity based on strong feelings and emotions is expressed through rhythmically arranged and ordered words. Famous Allen Ginsberg stated that poetry written in free verse, allows each of the latter to be as long as the poet's breath and since all the individuals differ among each other in the length of their breath so does their verses, making their poetry unique.
When I started reading and rereading Rana Bitar's short poetry collection named A Loaf of Bread, it absolutely left me breathless. In her poetry collection, the poetess introduces the reader to her roots, specifically, her country Syria, where she was brought up till the 1990s when she left for the United States of America to study medicine.
Her poetry book is only 36 pages long and encompasses 10 poems written in free verse with occasional intended or unintended rhymes. While the first two poems are directly related to the author herself, the rest of them summarize the stories of her countrymen. Thus, the reader joins the author on the journey of her beautiful childhood memories to her bombed home, unnecessary death of her people, numbness and emptiness of millions of refugees lost in foreign countries as well as soldiers lost in their own country, fighting among each other and dying hungry, full of shame. The author wishes to witness the end of the war in her lifetime and expresses her wish perfectly in the last poem with the verses "Let's make love, while death is being made somewhere else... Because the opposite of death is not life. The opposite of death is love." (p. 36) In my opinion, this last poem, which is, besides, the shortest in the book, encompasses the simple fact and the poetess urges the whole humanity including her countrymen to exercise more love and compassion instead of the vicious cycle of blame, anger, and revenge.
Throughout the collection of poems, the author uses repetitive verses and addresses persons, like Mother, Father, Son. This makes her poetry more relatable and heartfelt, even to the audience, that has no direct contact with the sufferings of the war. However, since her work associates the readers to some graphic scenes, like the poem "Beheading," this book is not for the faint-hearted. It leaves the reader shocked, disturbed and hopeless but at the same time, it also indicates how the suffering of "other people" is not something that the rest of humanity can overlook as we are in the end all the same - just mere humans.
Rana Bitar represents a touching voice of the voiceless and her poetry is beyond compare, thus I rate her poetry collection book 4 out 4 stars and recommend it to all poetry lovers. You won’t regret it!
A Loaf Of Bread
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