A spell of six years has passed since the publication of Bilkis Moola’s first anthology,
Wounds and Wings: A Lyrical Salve Through Metaphor. Her personal navigation weaved
between her home town, Volksrust, and Mbombela where her professional profile
as an educator shifted to a promotional position as a senior education specialist who presently works for the Mpumalanga Department of Education.
Bilkis’ first anthology was received throughout South Africa and launched her poetic persona. Recognition for her poetry soon reached an international platform where she has been published in In So Many Words: A Collection of Interviews and Poetry from Today’s Poets and Indiana Voice Journal in the United States. Her poetry has been published in India in Glomag Monthly Online Poetry and Prose Magazine, Women Poets: Within and Beyond Shores and Verses in Racism, Resistance and Refugee Crisis.
In the In So Many Words collection, an evocation of her interior world is revealed. She says that she began writing seriously in July 2011. While she might have dabbled in creative writing and poetry as an adolescent, Bilkis says she did not commit to any literary genre as she regarded her efforts as mediocre and insufficient for development.
She scribbles images or lines spontaneously when Inspiration beckons
When asked on her favourite writers who serve as her significant inspirations, she states that Sylvia Plath’s difficulty with relationships and grievous crusade against depression embody the Achilles heel in her poetry. Plath’s suicide two weeks after the publication of her novel The Bell Jar, at the age of 31, reached its 50th anniversary while The Bell Jar that
was originally published under the pseudonym Victoria Lewis has sold millions of copies globally. The woman who endured self-torment and would have been 85 today, tragically did not survive to realise her immense contribution to literature as well as her impact on the lives of millions of people.
William Wordsworth’s expression of “heightened perception” invigorates the poet’s voice when scenically located while the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins galvanises her use of alliteration. “Preludes” by TS Eliot in her now tattered copy of his Collected Poems 1909-1935 is her most beloved possession.
Bilkis explains that she has an eclectic selection of favourite writers. Authors who inhabit her popular fiction shelf are Dan Brown and Gillian Flynn. She refers to Karen Armstrong for reference on world religion and Alain de Botton is her chosen contemporary philosopher. Malcolm Gladwell’s “cultural commentaries and intellectual adventures” as depicted in his introductory biographies, satiate her thirst for non-fiction while David Nicholls’ One Day and Us appeal to her escapades for the throes of love and the pitfalls of romance.
When asked when she does most of her writing, Bilkis says she reserves Monday afternoons and evenings for the structured composition of her poetry. Nevertheless, she scribbles images or lines spontaneously when inspiration beckons. This occurs for her, most often before falling asleep when she will rise from her bed to note the thoughts floating in her mind.
Sheereen Moola and her daughter, Bilkis
Bilkis explains that she separated from her ex-husband at the end of October 2010 after four years of an emotionally, verbally, psychologically and physically abusive marriage. Her divorce was finalised in February 2011. The effects of divorce are traumatic and result in the processing of deep pain, the recovery of self-worth and the struggle to acquire a fresh,empowered identity with the need to face the future without bitterness and with positivity and hope. Writing poetry served as a refuge. The expression of emotion transferred through images upon paper allowed a catharsis to occur as healing materialised from the processing of experiences and feelings.
The attempt for personal affirmation launched Bilkis’ identity as a poet
She describes the writing of poetry as an active pursuit to document the observations of her interior and external landscapes. The appreciation of a breathtaking dawn or the glimpse of a magical sunset finds expression as the sensory and emotional arrest of images onto paper.
With regard to her published books, Wounds and Wings: A Lyrical Salve Through Metaphor is an anthology of poetry that is structured in three parts. The analogy of a caterpillar’s transformation to a butterfly reflects the parallel process of personal transformation. Each stage of transition reveals the series of changes and events that emerge from introspection and unfold as a sequence of discovery and growth. This anthology is an exploration of the
emotional pastures and wastelands that encompass the intimacy of celebratory and tragic human experiences as articulated in the figurative expression of poetry. Ebb and Flow of Love is Bilkis’ second anthology. The online launch of her new collection of poems was unveiled in June and can be viewed on YouTube.
Maymoena Arnold and Fouzia Sibda at the launch of Bilkis Moola’s Wounds and Wings: A Lyrical Salve Through Metaphor at Timbuktu Books, Cape Town
The progression of themes in Ebb and Flow of Love is artistically sketched along the spiritual path of essence, reminiscence, luminescence, translucence and transcendence. Each melody is a rhapsody of the poet’s song. “She bowed before words – her reigning monarchy of revelation where her fortunes hold dear”, captures her essence while, “In memory, the past exists – a canvas in the mind’s eye of wonder and woe” is reflective of
reminiscence. “Like the flower from the Greek for tending towards the sun” is symbolised in a heliotrope that reflects luminescence while translucence is evoked in a stream of water that flows and floats, an arousal of a heart kindled by the sensation of prose. Transcendence is captured in the poem:
The Ebb and Flow of Love
The ocean spreads before his gaze
where he rests his eyes.
The sea serenades his fortunes
calm and bountiful –
swept by the sky’s shade of blue,
grey’s brush of cloud and sunset’s
Twinkle, twinkle little star
beckons his memory –
destiny’s waves flow in tides
lit by moonlight’s glow and
His feet rise to reality
from the dream of his gaze –
where he rests his eyes.
He will return –
to the sea where his wish is
calm and bountiful –
to rest his eyes,
his fortune is met in
the ebb and flow of love.
Bilkis concludes her navigation along poetic shores with the rendition of her poem:
Weeds Are Beautiful Too
Surreal wisps scattered –
in the breath of final moments
as the gentle breeze of life
extinguishes heartbeats that fluttered,
fluttered and raced –
raced and throbbed
then was no more.
“Weeds are beautiful too,” he said
as he departed
to which she replied,
“Roses have thorns” .
Contact Bilkis on 084-516-0101 or at [email protected]