For each day of National Poetry Month one of our fellows will explore the breadth of poetry in three ways: through a question from another fellow, through a poem and through a writing prompt, #writetoday.
marlon esguerra asks, For the writer, what is a lie? Does (or rather, how does) your telling and retelling of your stories alter your memory of a subject?
Bushra Rehman answers, Of course I am afraid like most writers that I will be accused of lying when I write. But I know it’s inevitable to be accused. Everyone has a version of the truth which is equally valid, even a person I would disagree with intensely.
So being a writer, like I am, who is slightly political-the slightly was a joke- I get accused of not telling the truth because I did not represent someone else’s experience accurately. This is the burden of representation in American literature for someone like me, a Pakistani writer from New York City.
Still, I write fiction, by definition a liar’s art. I love recreating my memories the way I remember them, like little dioramas in my brain, reliving my favorites and spinning some into daydreams to enhance the pleasure of reliving them.
Simply Knocking on the Air
I willed you from the air
Or did I simply hear you knocking?
Visions of you played
like two second sitcoms
in my brain.
There you were in a diaper
on the stream rocks.
There you were
catching baby trout
in your fingers.
Before you were born,
I heard whispers
in the forest and dawn.
I reached back to grab hold
of the cord which tied me
to my grandmother.
She willed this too from the beyond.
Bushra Rehman’s first novel Corona, a dark comedy about being South Asian in the United States was noted among Poets & Writers Best Debut Fiction, featured in the LA Review of Books among a new wave of South Asian American Literature and is a LAMBDA finalist.