Farina Bajwa’s Flowers Grow on Broken Walls is a poetry collection reflecting the concerns and candid confessions of an adolescent speaker. “How can you feel so much/ and nothing at the same time?” she asks in one poem, “-my hormones must be ruined.”
The volume is comprised of seven, untitled, free-verse poems along with the author’s hand-drawn, black-and-white pictures: sneakers, butterflies, a woman dressed in flowers, another holding a mask to her face…and more. Arranged whimsically on the pages, the offerings are reminiscent of a teenage diary.
The speaker’s voice is honest and heartfelt, revealing her inner self. For example, in one poem, she writes: “A dagger ran through my heart and cut it open./ Anything terrible hidden inside, came to light.// Because the heart is the entrance to the soul/ and the box of Pandora is kept disguised.” Below this, surrounded by ample white space, is a sketch of a faceless woman framed by ruffles or wings and clutching what seems to be a heart. A single, poignant line appears adjacent to this image: “I wonder if I’ll ever have something important to say.”
As with the mention of Pandora, Bajwa often makes frequent allusions to mythological figures, linking her experiences with theirs.
While the poems rely more heavily on abstractions than vivid, concrete details, they capture, along with the alluring images, the zeitgeist of a younger generation, echoing the stylistics of writers like Rupi Kaur, who has gained an enormous following through social media. One tender personal resolution notes: “That’s it./ I’m putting on my shoes,/ I will walk all the way back to the start,/ and I will change the ending.” Another poignant moment concerns a broken relationship: “I was followed by heavy clouds all week/ while you were out,/ sunbathing.”
With its adolescent angst, this collection is unlikely to appeal to adult readers of contemporary literary poetry. However, teenagers and Instagram poetry fans will find much that resonates in these engaging pages.
Also available as an ebook.