“That his lungs were endowed with youth’s lovely rage.”
— Carine Topal
For almost a decade, I’ve watched the state of womanhood undergo a revolutionary frictional change. This has only been exacerbated in spaces where political and social turmoil ensues and an underlying tone of this surfaces in Carine Topal’s work.
Something about In the Heaven of the Never Before, felt utterly familiar and the deeper I fell into the magic of its poetry, the more I recognized it. This book sounded like the voice of a fighting mother who not only held her baby on the journey, but the lessons too.
It’s the experience of a woman growing from pain, from exploration, from pasts, and from culture. Reading the different pieces that highlighted the Middle East and faith spoke deeply and I thought of family and all that that entails, including the subliminal irony of misogyny juxtaposed with the open embrace of home.
Not only that, but Topal uses details so subtly that it hits you without even realizing it. This was evident to me in the poem, “Frugal Repast”, that I found myself reading over and over to dissect its magic deeper.
In a time where I think of the women who escaped war, abuse or even societal oppression, and found the will to carve their own paths, this is a book so perfectly on point. Definitely a throwback worth making a comeback and the greatest way to start the New Year!