The only valid criticism one could possibly levy against Noor Hindi’s microchap is it leaves the reader hungry—excitedly desperate—for more. Entering the book, we might assume the Filthy Woman speaker is a kind of feminist persona for that resisting “nastiness” that so many of us have tapped into in our current political moment. Like any good art though, Hindi’s poetry is at once contemporary and timeless. These eight poems explore what embodiment means as the crux of one’s self-awareness during such a pseudo-informed time.
Specifically, Hindi’s speaker rhapsodizes on those sacred feminist tropes of embodiment and sexual hunger with new vivacity. The voice is bold and unapologetic, aware of the “filthiness” that it will be labeled with for its rebellious nature. Questions of being tokenized as “the Muslim girl” plague the speaker’s meditations on her relationships. The tension between Islamaphobic violence at large and the speaker’s own private understanding of her heritage push the reader to enter this specific intersection of the speaker’s identity.
Moreover, the real weight of shame and desire are never far from Filthy Woman’s musings on what identity means to her, as beautifully crystallized in the closing stanzas of the final poem in the collection, “Filthy Woman During the Fourth of July,”
they want to whisk the lust from my lips, beat the alcohol
from my stomach, teach me how to not desire other women
how to rebuild gardens of shame in my body. Instead, I dug
my nails into this broken culture, ran to the closest sparkler,
then lit it with a hungry tongue. I carved my own scripture
onto this stomach.
Nothing has ever felt holier.
Hindi’s unflinching and graphic depictions of yearning feel like an answer to our familiar inquiries of being a feminist in this era where we are freshly plagued with questions about agency in relation to our own complex identities whenever we are tasked with teaching others who we are, which in reality, is truly a labor of informing others why we matter. In these poems, those efforts are both met and defied by the bold initiative to simply be, and as part of being, to hunger for more, without apology and instead, with reverence.
“Filthy Woman During the Fourth of July” appeared previously in the Spring 2017 issue of Jet Fuel Review.
Noor Hindi is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry through the NEOMFA. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Diode Poetry, Whiskey Island Magazine, Flock Literary Journal, and Foundry. Hindi is also a poetry reader for BOAAT Journal. She writes for The Devil Strip Magazine.
Kristi Carter is the author of Red and Vast (dancing girl press), Daughter Shaman Sings Blood Anthem (Porkbelly Press) andCosmovore (Aqueduct Press). Her poems have appeared in publications including So to Speak, poemmemoirstory, CALYX, Hawaii Review, and Nimrod. Her work examines the intersection of gender and intergenerational trauma in 20th Century poetics. She holds a PhD from University of Nebraska Lincoln and an MFA from Oklahoma State University.