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Formats
Paperback Details
  • 11/2021
  • 978-3-00-070750-6
  • 238 pages
  • $12.99
Farena Bajwa
Author, Illustrator, Editor (anthology)
Flowers Grow on Broken Walls
Farena Bajwa, author

This book is about the journey to yourself, told in a collection of poems. It’s about understanding the shadow sides of yourself and giving them a chance to be seen by daylight. It talks about heartbreak, depression, self-worth, confidence, hope, believing in the unseen and ultimately, healing, by loving yourself. Written and illustrated by Farena Bajwa

Reviews
Bajwa’s disarming debut collection of intimate, often untitled poems opens with an ending, a black page declaring “The End” and lines in which she writes “‘Click and Delete’ / and gone he was. / Swallowed by the world.” That end is bookended, some 200 plus pages later, with a final beginning, and the urgent promise, seemingly hand-carved into the page like graffiti in a school desk, “YOU WILL HEAL.” The poems and sketches in between find her, with that same engaging sense of play, feeling her way toward that promise, as her verses recount in clear, precise language moments of being adrift, of surprise beauty, of fleeting hopes and connections: “Hey my little cashier boy,” she writes, “you sparked something in me / I didn’t know I still had.”

The portrait that emerges is of a poet healing, facing uncertainty, digging for confidence and meaning. Some verses find Bajwa’s narrator psyching herself up (“‘I can’t do it’ / is the moment before you do it. / -start.”) or contemplating the frustrating complexity of contemporary romance (“Ask me out for a date so you can get to know me / or scroll down my feed until you‘ve seen my personality. / Have you found something you like? / Am I worth the wait?”) Her tone and topics are relatable, her forms inviting, her approaches clever, sometimes wry, often affecting. The feeling is loose and light without being casual: her lines dance with each page’s white space, the layouts lending crucial emphasis.

Bajwa is shrewd enough to anticipate and defuse the criticism of an ungenerous reader--one poem, on the subject of art, asks “Is it my passion, / or / do I just want to be seen?” That question, of course, cannily thumbs the essence of the creative impulse. Less guarded are her spot illustrations, a bevy of vivid, surprising sketches accompanying and enriching most pages. The combination is arresting, both naive and savvy, simple and rich.

Takeaway: Intimate, relatable verse, written, illustrated, and laid out with wit and feeling.

Great for fans of: Nayyirah Waheed, Faraway.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Formats
Paperback Details
  • 11/2021
  • 978-3-00-070750-6
  • 238 pages
  • $12.99

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