The Universe On A String

Readers Become One With the Stars in Kimia Madani’s Collection

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The Luminary wastes no time in creating an appeal to prospective readers. Kimia Madani’s 2017 publication is adorned with an alluring cover; it is saturated with intense blues and blacks which are interrupted by a blinding light shooting out through the darkness. Its design is uncharacteristically thrilling for a poetry collection. Readers could very well think they are picking up a thin book of suspense or a fantastical novelette rather than a book of poems. Of course, the argument could be made that the The Luminary is all those aspects of the literary world combined.

Madani’s work chronicles a speaker who is constantly attempting to wholeheartedly embrace themselves in their truest form while at the same time tumbling back down into a bitter darkness of self loathing. The suspense comes with the turning of each page. In what mood will readers find this speaker next? Elated? Or crushed as they are in “Aftermath” when the speaker’s voice thuds like a stone dropped down an empty well. “The latticework of light / cast from the window touches your face / the way I won’t…”; the sorrowful lines echo in the mind.

Perhaps on the following page the readers will find the speaker freed from the laws of nature. In “Memento,” it seems that the speaker has achieved this if only for but a moment. “I slowly lose sight of gravity. I forget I can’t fly,” the speaker explains wistfully. But that ecstatic, dreamy nature is tempered with such painful verses as “wasting time, beating time, killing time / no wonder it flies from us” found in the piece “Leaving.”

The one major detriment to the collection is that the beauty of the cover can threaten to overshadow the poetry within. The art, with it’s looming trees and twinkling stars, is so compelling to gaze upon that readers could get just as lost in it as the lone figure who is eternally trapped gazing into that resplendent light. Although, there are poems in The Luminary which are worth tearing one’s attention away from the cover art.

“Crystalline” with its “…multifaceted iridescence…” and “Icarus” are two very fascinating pieces of poetry for radically different reasons. The former is enchanting in its descriptions of rose-quartz “…with its pinked cheeks, another weary housewife….” and onyx, that “…roiling black spirit…,” while the latter is a gripping moment of violence.

“Icarus” stands apart from its neighbors. The flesh and blood nature of it is so different from the rest Madani’s floating poems which boast soulful connections to the stars. This is a poem of Earth with its lust for violence. To read this poem is to receive such a shock as if the titular character himself had thrust several lit matches from the page into the readers’ faces, singeing eyebrows in the process. Not only is it an excellent poem, it is one of a kind in this collection.

Repetition of ideas is at once a boon and an impairment to this work as a whole. While the consistency of the poetry’s message is to be appreciated, many of the poems do have an intense similarity in theme that can cause them to become a bit like soft white noise. An easy solution to this minor setback is to simply flit through the book.

One of the greatest strengths of poetry is that it is not entrapped by a linear structure and neither are its readers. In anxious times, turn to “Stardust” and find “…solace in this pearled, baby teeth moon.” Or open up to “The Gloaming” when self doubt is heavy in the air. These poems, “Stardust,” in particular, are writ in lace and bejeweled with morning dew, perfect for the more contemplative poetry fan.

Kimia Madani’s poetry collection, published through Thought Catalog Books, aims to uplift those whose souls are tired and aching. While this is her sole collection, the creativity found within its covers surely means that there will be much more to see from this poet.

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