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Tuesday, 10 December 2013


Professor M. R. Ali

The press release that accompanied my copy of "Salute the Word" explains the intentions behind this collection - "....a testimony to the power of words and ideas; a fascinating journey from one language to another and from one culture domain to another, leading us, ultimately, to familiarity....influenced by the diversity and richness of language as the author injects English with an Arabic perspective."

I thought at first that I was in for a challenging time, dealing with obscure and cryptic themes, bogged down by heavy intellectualism and deep analysis.  But, to my surprise and, I must say, relief, from the outset, the poems, varied in theme, are written with a light touch and a love of rhyme.  Sometimes the rhyming, rather like rap music lyrics, is a little overdone but no one can deny the poet's enthusiasm for having fun with words or finding that precise phrase that touches the heart.

The collection opens with The Pen ("The pen is a faithful friend of the human being....."), a kind of "This Is Your Life" of the writing instrument and it's importance in the history of mankind, it's uses and abuses, it's characteristics and personalities.  It is a good opening poem that sets the tone for what's to come.  We read of love, thoughtfulness, giving, endurance, knowledge, family and hope.

I enjoyed The Barber Of Exeter Street because it brought back many memories of going for a haircut when I was a boy, listening to the chatter in the waiting area and talking to the barber as he snipped away. "A silent barber is not usual and cannot function, part of his work is to keep talking from beginning to end."  Modern hairdressers talk away but about banal things. Proper barbers had/have opinions, stories, jokes....a dying breed.

The longer poems are as interesting as they are entertaining.  The Cucumber Epic is a fun ride through the joys of food; Sinjab From Punjab is an amusing romp about squirrels; Human Epic looks at the head, heart and soul of mankind: "We will never fully understand ourselves...."; Lovers Around The World freshens up the age-old themes of romance and human relationships: "Please, don't forget your love brochure as you leave through the door."

The Five Senses In Haiku is a playful sequence towards the end of a book that is funny, touching, considerate and personal.

I enjoyed the "Salute The Word" collection.  Sometimes the rhyming is a little wearing, occasionally forced, but overall the book is uplifting, full of spirit, a testimony to the love of words and, importantly, fun.

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