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Better than Prozac
on May 18, 2003
Mohja Kahf's poetry collection is better than prozac. Her poems link classical Arab characters with current day capitalistic trends ("Zuleika meets the Marlboro man across a delayed green"), and are punctuated, in the book's first half, with sometimes hilarious, sometimes poignant Hijab Scenes, where the author encounters everyday prejudice but moves beyond self-pity and anger to humor and celebration. The result is charming and ultimately empowering. The first third of the book tells the plight of the immigrant- the Arab Muslim in particular- and uses the metaphor of landing on the moon. The second third is an ode to women and womanhood, and made me lift my head a little higher when I left the bookstore (this book under my arm.) The last third is a beautiful dialogue on political currents and events, and the poem in which Matisse characters come to life is jaw-dropping. The poetry collection offers something rare and brilliant as a stone: an intellectual journey from which one emerges with voyager dust.