In Glass Scissors, Bobby Nayyar, of Limehouse Books, has shared personal and intimate memories, lots of pain and honesty – like telling everything to a total stranger you think you’ll never see again, but who sits and listens intently as you speak. There’s a lot of pain and power held within that little packet of words. He has opened a treasure chest of secrets and rendered himself vulnerable by putting this autobiographical work out there. But he should not be afraid. Now that box has been opened, he has become so much more human and real to me, somewhat less of a stranger and more of a friend.

Glass Scissors (book)

Photo courtesy of Bobby Nayyar, Limehouse Books.

The poetry appears to be simple and easy to read. Don’t be fooled. On first reading, the words seemed painful, honest, depressing, liberating, evoking empathy and understanding. But on second readings and more, they showed their true colours: they carry a power and intensity that previously might have lain hidden under layers of apparent simplicity before. There is nothing simple in sharing experiences such as love and loss, of being the ‘other man’, about the realisation that you have to walk away so that someone you love can be happy, or the description of depression feeling like it’s tearing your brain in two, and how events in the world turn you into the Other because people look not at you, the person, but you the colour, the race, the invisible.

Some of the words reminded me of some of my own experiences of growing up as an outsider, others made me feel like a voyeur looking in on deeply private scenes, while others made me want to wrap my arms around the author as one would for a sibling in pain. Overall, they show that sometimes, no matter how much time has passed since an event, we are never quite the same again.

There are poems where the words are so very beautiful and descriptive, such as in ‘Tether’ (p38): “Steel-tipped building which stood/Like a forest spearing the sky.” There are powerful statements, such as this one in ‘Thunderstorms’ (p47): “Everything about me bisected.” And who was the dapper man with silver hair who seems to have left behind him a life-long memory of being made to feel inferior?

Even if you don’t read poetry, do give this book a go – it’s worth it and won’t take up too much of your time, except I’m sure you’ll think about it long after you’ve finished reading it. If you want to check the book out for yourself, here are the details:

Bobby Nayyar, Glass Scissors (London: Limehouse Books, 2015)