Home > Art, Books, Geek, Poetry, Reviews > Book Review: yesterday i was the moon by Noor Unnahar

Book Review: yesterday i was the moon by Noor Unnahar

I’m happy to get back in the swing of things with my blog by writing another book review. This particular book, yesterday i was the moon by Noor Unnahar. is a departure from the other books that I’ve reviewed in the past. It is, first and foremost, a book of poetry. But it is also so much more than that: it’s an autobiography, the story of Noor’s life told through the lens of culture, language, loss, love, and identity. Born in Karachi, Pakistan, Noor writes, in poetic verse, about her experiences being separated from her home and the raw emotion that goes with the the confusing experience of belonging.

Noor has a very unique style of poetry that is repeated throughout the entire book, almost completely without change. There are, of course, differences in length, theme, emotional content, and layout; however, when you’re reading the poems you can definitely see that there’s a very specific form in mind for all of them. She shuns grammar and capitalization, creating punchy lines that run one after the other. They’re broken, sparsely, by dashes or semi-colons.

Her style is not without surprises. Noor is a self-styled social media personality, and I think some of that comes through in her poetry. There are some poems that are organized like lists, such as:

wishlist:
1. tremendous courage
2. the power of forgiveness
3. strength in abundance
4. an unlimited supply of kindness

Poems like this offer refreshing and surprising takes on her form, bringing us into the world we inhabit while also maintaining the themes that she builds throughout the book.

I think my favorite poem in this book–and finding a favorite was difficult because poems are almost burdened by her personality and thoughtfulness–is a simple poem that’s three lines and only ten words.

in this human skin
i am half war
half peace

There’s a lot of texture in this poem, and it comes through with very few words. Alone it may not seem like much, but when taken with the rest of the book as a whole it is layered with meaning. The book must be taken as a whole story, Noor’s story, and each poem is a piece of that story and each poem must be placed in that context to be properly understood. This is the story of a woman who is trying to learn who she is and her place int he world, while having a conversation with us about what that means for you and me.

Taken as a whole, yesterday i was the moon is a fascinating insight into the who of Noor Unnahar, and perhaps, along the way, the who of yourself as well. It’s style is a mix of visual art and poetry, which complement and build upon each other. It’s insightful, thought-provoking, and layered with emotion, meaning, and in a very real sense pain. I strongly recommend this book for people who enjoy poetry, but also people who are interested in walking a mile in another person’s shoes, albeit in the form of poetry. I give yesterday i was the moon 5 out of 5 stars with the hope that Noor Unnahar continues to enrich our lives with more of her wit and insight.

  1. Tony Self
    October 16, 2019 at 3:52 PM

    Nice! Keep writing, Josh! “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world” – Robin Williams

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