A poetry collection that is both addictive and relatable. 

There are no languages as universal as love and loss and as Wits English honours student, Zainab Gaffoor writes in her debut collection of poetry, for most, they are one. 

“When [L]ove beckons to you, follow him,
Though his ways are hard and steep.” 

In kicking things off with words by the legendary Kahlil Gibran, Gaffoor draws us into a world where we all either have been or will be at some point in our journey through life. 

“If you ever find yourself in a place where there is no outlet for these languages, I beg that you return to these words and allow yourself to exorcise your feelings into them,” she writes. Whether you are experiencing grief or are in the happiest of places, there is sure to be something in the collection that resonates with you.  

Right from the opening section of love poems and the later ones on loss, Gaffoor’s writing style varies from deep and meaningful, to simple and easy on the eye and ear.  

“i do not un-derstand
how to un-do
how to un-live
how to un-feel.” 

She writes the following in the section on “the parts of my beloved,” which was, personally speaking, the best section of the book. 

“You have turned
my blood
into ecstasy.” 

This poem shows that even the shortest of poems, with the fewest words, can evoke emotion. 

Another one from the “the parts of my beloved” section reads: 

“In Your eyes,
i see all the stars that exist in the universe.
i see the portal which allows myself to pass from
this duniyaa
into Ours.
i see the golden streams of appreciation.
i see the satisfaction of my past being what it was
for my present to be You,
and my future too.” 

What really draws you in is the capitalised words that show the significance of the one they love. This device is taken further by referring to the self in lowercase, alluding to a feeling of inferiority when compared to the love interest. This points to how most people view themselves when they are in love; they place the person they love on a pedestal so high that it becomes incomprehensible to themselves and often others.  

Style comparisons to the likes of bell hooks are no coincidence either, Gaffoor told Wits Vuvuzela: “Okay, yes, I have intended the simplicity,” she said. “I see love and loss as universal languages, meaning that everyone understands it. One of the biggest reasons people don’t enjoy poetry is because they don’t understand it. I want people to enjoy what I write. bell hooks is actually someone I learnt this from. Her writing is simple because she writes for the masses. She writes for understanding, not to seem fancy or intensely knowledgeable. Her knowledge is translated through her simplicity, and that is why I made my writing simple, so that everyone can understand it,” she added. 

On Love and Loss is a modern poetry collection that navigates the experiences of love and loss, in the one language we can all speak and understand. It is one for the ages. 

The e-book is now available for purchase on  Amazon. 


FEATURED IMAGE: The cover of “On Love and Loss”, Zainab Gaffoor’s debut collection of poetry. Photo: Provided.