'Diversity' in poetry helps address untouched and undiscussed issues that are considered taboo. 'Paint Your Own Rainbow' by Shelly Dhanania is a collection of 12 poems that discuss 'Diversity'. Her discussion in the 12 poems helps normalize and celebrate existing differences in society. It helps criminalized, stigmatized, and ostracized individuals to come out in the open and breathe the fresh air of hope. Her poetry helps us comprehend the world better in its brokenness.
Shelly Dhanania decides to orient her reader before delving into her verse. She places the reader in perspective with her introduction to every poem. She speaks of varied themes like pain, depression, the battle between the binary and the non-binary, the perpetuation of patriarchy, homophobia, relationships, the birth of a girl child; a curse or destiny, rape, being queer and gay, and untouchability.
Shelly manages to weave her poetry wonderfully expressing the marginalized themes. Her words like, "Never bow down to let anyone fix your crown, let it be flawed in its own way" speak of being just the way one is and accepting oneself not having to change for the sake of the other. She says, "Dreams are within her reach, but only in her eyes" the first part of the line assuring and giving hope at the same time snatching it away because the dreams cannot be a reality. The words like, "And the moon told me I don't have to be whole in order to shine" tell us that we need not be perfect, our imperfections make us special.
The two poems out of her very best in this book that will remain with me are 'Cursed Destiny' and 'Youniverse'. The intention of Shelly Dhanania by placing an introduction before the poem was to let us understand what she is trying to explain in the poem. But her poems are not complex enough, requiring an introduction. What irked me a little also were the grammatical glitches which could easily be avoided. Or else it is an easy, convincing, and positively disturbing read and can be finished in one sitting.