USEREVIEW 116 (Capsule): WJD

Hollay Ghadery/ April 12, 2023/ Book Review, Capsule Review

Khashayar Mohammadi
WJD (Gordon Hill Press, 2022)
ISBN 978-1-77422-070-2 | 68 of 138 pp* | $20 CAD | BUY Here


Khashayar Mohammadi’s second full-length collection of poetry, WJD, is an absorbing phenomenological exploration of language, culture, country and spirit. While rangy, roaming different literal and figurative landscapes from Iran to “pre-cosmic” nothingness, the poems are singular in their bubbling richness; an intensity that punches as it delights, plucks at the darkness but also, proffers a hard-won hope. We can see an example of this dualism in the title poem, ‘WJD.’ Mohammadi writes, “to heal through nature / is to heal nature // healing at the birds’ frequency / a lesson.”

As we wander through different landscapes and mindscapes, Mohammadi’s deliberate and disarming lyricism forces us to confront human complacency, our complicity in the injustices of the world. These lines from ‘The Antlered Wine-Bearer’ are a stunning summation of this wilful blindness: “the prophecy of our ancient proximity to profound pain and / suffering / and the sun shines on / buzzing.” 

Mohammadi’s work is a request — gracious but firm — to sit with the discomfort of our comfort. To question its cost.

*Reviewers’ note: WJD includes a second book within this book itself, Mohammadi’s translation of Saeed Tavanaee Marvi’s The Ocean Dweller. For the purposes of this capsule review, I have focused only on the non-translated original poems of Mohammadi that make up WJD. 

Recommended excerpt:

‘At the Hospital’ (p. 65) shows us Mohammadi’s ability to weave hope and hopelessness; chaos and control; meaning and incoherence. His words have an inherent melody: “and I am perhaps sick and tired and a little hopeful of sunrise.”

Hollay Ghadery is a writer living in rural Ontario on Anishinaabe land. She has her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph. Her fiction, nonfiction and poetry have been published in various literary journals, including Grain, Room, The Antigonish Review, The Fiddlehead and The Malahat Review. Her memoir on mixed-race identity and mental health, Fuse, came out with Guernica Editions’ MiroLand imprint in spring 2021. Her debut collection of poetry, Rebellion Box, is due out in spring 2023 with Radiant Press, and her collection of short stories, Widow Fantasies, is set to be released with Gordon Hill Press in spring 2024.

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