Book Review: Art of Escape by Mina Gorji

The story told within the slim 68 pages of Art of Escape is elusive; I read this book twice before the seemingly random and disjointed thoughts clicked together and painted a clear picture. Occasionally we escape toward what we are escaping from.

The poetry is short but meticulous and sure of itself. The words know what they need to say, and they say it proudly. From the armadillo to the octopus to us, we live and take breath from the same land. Home is where we make it.

Often grounded, sometimes rooted as far as Venus, the poetry that makes the Art of Escape places us at the center of a kingdom where even a wasp nest has a story to tell. The words explore the small worlds that make our lives whole and, in turn, expand outwards, to make this world whole. Many of the poem titles are daring words, like Pitseolak, Crustacea, and Tineola Bisselliella, yet there is no confusion as to what the words mean. They are accepted into the poem.

The structure of the words and letters creates a unique voice. Here is a book that welcomes us to join in a deep connection to the land. Through the eyes of insects, I experience the small ravages that are huge to ants and brutalization’s displayed in the whalebone house with “vertebrae arranged in rows/around the door and window frames/patterns out of porous bone with flint/bright cut, and cobblestone.”

Raw words have a home here; cutting words that invite us in: “they’re wiping lipstick/off girls’ mouths/with tissues wrapped/round razor blades.” These words leave us shivering but we appreciate the truth in them all the same.

Mina Gorji shares pieces of her life at the end of the book that lend a deeper meaning to many of the poems. Mina is also my mother’s father’s brother’s daughter, so her family is connected to mine. From Tehran, dreaming of firing squads, reveling in fried onions, and moving to London. With family roots in Singapore, India, and London, Mina Gorji explores the abruptness of thought, the fading of memory.

The poems are to be read several times and treasured. The poems are to be wondered over. They leave you dangling at the edge of reality. Be abstracted. Escape.

Mina Gorji is a lecturer in the English Faculty, Cambridge, and a fellow of Pembroke College. Her published work includes a study of John Clare and essays on awkwardness, mess, weeds, and rudeness.

If you are so called, you can find Art of Escape on Amazon here.

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25 thoughts on “Book Review: Art of Escape by Mina Gorji

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  1. I normally don’t pick poetry books if I have an option because I enjoy one poem at a time reading, rereading, and absorbing it. That means I won’t be able to finish the book, at all. But your review has made me crave for this poetic collection by Mina Gorji. Will try to get hold of it if I could.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mina Goji is an extraordinary woman. Her poetry is disturbing and powerful. The fact that a woman should succeed where many men have failed —attention being brought to her gender and the implication that it is somehow related to her success— is a cliché. But if we can get past that, after reading Art of Scape one thing can easily be concluded: Mina Goji is a wonderful writer.

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  3. A mother’s father’s brother would be a great uncle on your mother’s side, right?

    “they’re wiping lipstick/off girls’ mouths/with tissues wrapped/round razor blades.”

    Makes for a really great quote, I’d be interested in reading more. A great review

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Poetry can take on some many different meanings, can’t it? You could read the same poem twice and gett different imagery or feelings from them each time. Definitely a great way to go into another world, and really open your imagination!
    You definitely have a talented family who has a fab way with words!
    Aimsy xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I believe you need to re-read poetry more than once. Very often on the second or third reading you discover new meaning in what you might have assumed was a simple set of words. This anthology sounds like it rewards multiple readings to escape into – great review, Jaya!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. What a talented family you have! I’m both intrigued and intimidated by that quote you’ve used about the tissues wrapped in razor blades. That’s some pretty grotesque imagery in my mind! Sounds like a fab read though and will definitely check it out if I can. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts Jaya. Wishing you a wonderful holiday season filled with love and joy. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This sounds really interesting! I need a book that can transport me to another world, to get lost in its words and away from everything is just my ideal read. Your line about “the poems are to be wondered over” just shows how perfect this is – thank you for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In these days in particular to be able to escape with the mind at least is something I would surely treasure.
    Home is were we make it is a consideration I always been in love with.
    My modest particular version is “home is where I feel good”.
    I also feel good whenever I read you.
    Thanks ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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