Book Reviews

Nejoud Al Yagout's Ounces of Oneness

Al-Yagout, Nejoud. Ounces of Oneness, Friesen Press: Victoria, Canada. 2016.

Ounces of Oneness is a Poetry anthology by Nejoud Al-Yagout, who is a Kuwaiti poet, essayist and blogger. She is the author of two more Poetry anthologies in English: ‘This is an Imprint’ and ‘Awake in the Game of Pretending’. Her articles and poems have been featured in international magazines like, Tikkun, Carte Blanche, Best Self Magazine, Women’s Spiritual Poetry, Thought Catalog, The Master Shift, Kuwait Times, Arab Times, Al Rai, The Divan and Global Chatter Magazine.

Ounces of Oneness is a collection of 51 poems of myriads themes revealing poet’s intellect, sensitivity and creativity. The first poem, ‘Unmasked’ is about love and this theme is carried on in poems, ‘This’, ‘Ascension’, ‘Isn’t That So!’ and ‘Implications’. ‘This’ is a long poem very sensitively portraying the emotions of innocent love through various symbols, images and metaphors like ‘moonless nights’, ‘dragonfly’, ‘butterfly’, ‘adrenalin’, ‘rib cages’, ‘surface of a smile’, ‘mathematical equation’, ‘vortex’, ‘fire iron’, ‘phoenix from the ashes’, ‘nameless force’, ‘embers of hell’ and ‘state of emergency’. She has added a song to the poem, adding beauty to it:

I am the gazelle, and the lion is ravaging me, though I am wide
awake, still alive
This does not lessen the pain; but it reminds me of terrorists

The poet has used ‘terrorists’ as a symbolic of pain through this she has highlighted the issue of terrorism which brings suffering and miseries globally. ‘Awe- Struck’ ‘Ever Awake’, ‘Black Hole’, ‘Semper Fi’, ‘Shedding’, ‘A-ha!’ ‘Peripatos’, ‘Touch’ and ‘Multiverse’ are philosophical poems. In ‘Ever Awake, poet is expressing her opinion on the reality of world of poetry writing:

Through verse, untruths are weaved
into the multi-colored fabrics of our psyche

While some poems like, ‘Listening’, ‘Uno’, ‘Oh My!’, ‘Sapience’, ‘Transition’, ‘Life-life’, ‘Inner Guru’ ‘Sight’ are short poems. As we see in ‘Inner Guru’:

this voice is louder
than any other
though it does
not speak

This style of writing short poetry is becoming very popular in the contemporary scenario in which poets try to convey their feelings in few words. Poet has composed some poems on innovative style viz, ‘Evolution’, ‘Self- Inquiry’, ‘Another Hypothesis’ and ‘The Dance’. As we see:

Who are you?
  Are you?

This indicates that poet is well-equipped with innovative and modern style of writing poetry. Though innovative, at the same time, ‘The Dance’ is highly philosophical discussing about the meaning of life and death.

Poems such as ‘Conditioning’, ‘Ours’, ‘Upping the Ante’ ‘Dunes’, ‘Adieu’, ‘Facing’ and ‘Non-resistance’ are symbolic poems on various themes expressing poetess desires and emotions in a symbolic way, very difficult to understand. Some other poems like, ‘A Cup of the Beyond’, ‘Divine’, ‘Perplexed’ ‘No Notions’ ‘Dual-duel’ and ‘Right Here’ are subjective in tone which seems to reveal Poets feelings.

The poem, ‘Universality’ expresses her universal love irrespective of ethnic and national boundaries. As she pours her emotions in the following lines:

Allow me the honor to love those you hate,
to include those you exclude
Allow me the honor to make peace with those
upon whom you declare war and allow me to
befriend your enemies

The same theme is highlighted in the poem, ‘Connections’ in which she is saying “Falling in love with all”. 

Grammatica’ is a poem which comes in the category of subjective, symbolic as well as philosophical. As the lines indicates:

I dove into scio nescio and
rented a Columbina,
when all I wanted was a place to
hide from them, from me,
from you
And though you were a comma,
you felt like a full-stop.

Poet has shown her concern for world peace in poem, ‘Anything for Peace’ and in ‘Ode to Terrorist’ she has highlighted a universal issue of grave importance which is a cause spreading terror around the world.

Transcendence’ is beautiful love poem which is based on spiritual love and aesthetic beauty. The Poet opens up her heart and says:

I love you too much to turn you
into a wish that was granted to
me against your will
Instead, I give you the freedom
to live, to love without me

The kind of love exhibited in the verse is platonic in which a lover doesn’t ask for anything in return not even love.

Big Banging’, ‘The Cliff’ and ‘The Collapse’ are subjective as well as symbolic in tone revealing a person’s feeling who is deeply in love with someone that he/she doesn’t want to depart from his/her lover. ‘In Love’s Constitution’, she describes about violent passion in love.

Poet seems to be inspired by Romantic Poets as she seems to take refuge in nature in the same way as Wordsworth, Keats and other Poets have taken. As lines of poem, ‘Orb’ is fine example of it:

Nature knows not the word no
And this is why the brooks
bleed in our core and you quietly
whisper to the world, prior to surrender:

Same theme of nature but mingled with personal feelings of love is displayed in the last poem of the anthology, ‘99%’. As she says:

The greatest love story ever told was
between a leaf and the sun,
between the trees and a breeze,
between the sand beneath your feet
and the ocean,
between you and me

In the contemporary scenario, there are many female voices in the field of English poetry in the Arab world and Nejoud Al-Yagout is one of them who are representing Kuwait. In the present anthology, Ounces of Oneness, Yagout has bestowed all her feelings, sensitivity and creativity in the forms of beautiful verses. It is a mystical and intellectual journey of a feminine self in the materialistic world. Her poems are stem with philosophical ideas reflecting her inclination towards mysticism.

Yagout seems to have immense love for writing poetry which is quite visible in her poems which are enriched with deep passion and emotions. She has chosen moral, ethical, philosophical and other themes pertaining to human existence in the present times. She has also thrown light on some universal issue of grave importance in the present scenario. Almost all the poems in the collection are written in free verse. She has also tried her hand on modern and innovative style of writing poetry. All the poems in the collection highlight poet’s imagination, feelings and mystical attitude reflected in the form of beautiful verses which is the reason that  poetess is highly popular in her part of world. The poetry collection is a gift for all the poetry lovers who loves reading good poetry.


More by :  Dr. Shamenaz Sheikh

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