[Review] Taboo: Poems – Melizarani T Selva

Stars: 4/5
tl;dr: A glimpse into Malaysia via the goggles of one of its most recognisable spoken word poets.

After reading so much garbage poetry books that seem to be the one making all the money, Melizarani is refreshing to the fellow spoken poet’s soul. This book peels back the layers around the world of a Malaysian Indian woman with both keen word-fu and an unapologetic candidness. Her pieces about issues faced by the country and our people strike a chord.

And yes, it really did take me this long to finish this book. I started and stopped because I was in one of my reading ruts. Things only started taking off a week ago when I realised that I’ve been holding on to my friend’s copy for a ridiculously long time and should really see about returning it. I gave it another shot.

Right away ‘blank’ struck a chord. A commentary on the Allah controversy, Melizarani talks about having to substitute the A-word with a blank. Being from Sarawak, I am fortunate to live some place where everybody agreed how ridiculousness of this controversy is, even if they don’t personally believe in either deities popularly associated with that name. Or even if, like me, their Blank really is blank.

‘my country is a man’ puts a whole different, sexy spin on how to talk about Malaysia; while ‘to the macha who got away’ made me put the book down halfway through the piece because one stanza made me laugh so hard I was unable to immediately continue. ‘hero’ was a beautiful use of Superman as a metaphor; I wish I wrote that.

There were little pieces in between the longer ones that will make connoisseurs of instapoetry happy, but I barely remember any of them. I look at them again when I get my own copy.

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