Nayyirah Waheed’s Salt is minimalistic. It’s short and to the point. It starts with various translations of the word salt. Clean, white space and the title typed on the right side of the cover. It is a poetry book by a poet for poets.
A burst of short sentences tagged with depth and thought create room for pause. This appears intentional as seen in its layout and design. A moment for it to sink in, percolate, perhaps to blink back tears for the more emotional.
Salt begins with a poem about birth: “Water clings to my wrists. It has been my fragrance since birth.”
Nayyirah tackles aging, migration, motherhood among other issues in this poetry collection. In the age of social media and glorification of travel, Nayyirah raises a poignant question in one of her poems:
“Would you still want to travel to that country if you would not take a camera with you?”
Nayyirah started writing poetry at 11 years old as part of a school assignment. She tackles this in the poem How I became a writer where she writes “as a child there was either books or pain. I chose books.”
In another poem she says ‘“my heart is in my mind. I think this is why I am an artist.” And her art is as honest as the innocence of a child.
She does not do readings publicly or participate in poetry forums, aside from her poetry. There are no pictures of her existence online, adding to her allure. But don’t take my word for it. Check her out.
Nayyirah’s poetry is borderless, she is hard to define merely by race or where she is from. She leaves the burden of interpretation to the reader and does not always point you to the intended meaning.
On circumstances, “where you are. is not who you are.” How true that sometimes a line from a book like Nayyirah’s can remind us.
Her writing is clear and like a breath of fresh air, feels much welcomed. That’s what her body of work does; invites you to the deeper recesses of her mind’s abode. Her openness seems limitless. The limitlessness is in her poem evident in her work.
Fresh and alive, is what the book Salt is. Timeless. A book that will probably be marked on every page and worth having in your collection. Get it on Amazon.