cover image Streams That Lead Somewhere

Streams That Lead Somewhere

Fareh Malik. Mawenzi House, $20.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-77415-076-4

Malik’s intimate and hopeful debut tackles the difficult intersection of mental illness, radicalization, and social influence, addressing Islamophobia, racism, and discrimination. In “Brown Skinned and Beautiful,” the speaker recalls, “I am the one you raised a gun at/ the one you said looked like a threat/ this skin was the stage where your appreciation/ became fear/ and from this I learned/ no matter how nurturing the tree/ people may still bring axes to our/ trunk.” “Bright Lights” opens, “I wonder why invisibility/ and depression often/ walk arm-in-arm,” while “Worrisome” begins, “This one is for/ the men who find/ solace on the edges of/ cliffs/ the ones that feel peace in-between/ violent folds of air/ who eat lightning/ and still have room for dessert.” In the final poem, “Somewhere,” he optimistically declares, “sometimes// somewhere//... like your heart has finally/ changed its locks/ to something that you/ actually have the key to.” Persistence through hardship—both the internal struggles of mental illness and external forces—is a recurring motif. Malik’s candid poems unflinchingly investigate what is most problematic and upsetting in society while insisting that joy exists under all conditions. (Apr.)