"Shh... But Let's talk!" by Grace Erika Nieminen is a step towards a discussion on topics that we would otherwise not entertain discussing. Depression, accepting someone coming to terms with one's gender and sexuality, being different from what society wants you to be, whether in relationships or otherwise, and losing one's battle in life and choosing to surrender. Grace is not the first to have spoken about the issues of homosexuality and homophobia, anxiety and stigma, life and death; she only reiterates but in her peculiar poetry.
Not for once did I feel lost while I read her poetry. Her style is simple and distinct. She sets the tone right at the start with the preface narrating how the journey of reading her poetry would be. She promises hope and positivity throughout her 20 poems in the book.
I would like to mention five of her interesting poems that struck a chord in me or shudder or nod my head in agreement: Smothered Ardour, Never Good Enough, An Ode to my Whelp, Despoiled Soul, and The Maid of Honour.
'Smothered Ardour' is about two lovers who are 'congruent' in the words of Grace. Caste and race don't cage them separate for eternity but their gender. Grace interestingly brings to our notice that it was just 'caste' and 'race' so far that would be the cause of our division, and now it is 'gender.'
She continues the same thought process in 'The Maid of Honour' when the twin brother is coming to terms with his sexuality and desires to be the Maid of Honour at his sister's wedding. There is nothing wrong in the boy trying to understand oneself, the fault here is in the society that finds it hard to accept the other as one is.
'Never Good Enough' is a slogan that every girl is forced to listen to despite proving one's mettle. 'An Ode to my Whelp' is about the poet's friendship with her pet which goes unnoticed, and her lack of friends questioned. 'Despoiled Soul' speaks of rape in neatly intertwined thoughts by Grace.
These and the other poems begin the discussion not to be forgotten but to be carried forward and give the dignity individuals deserve. It is we who make the society, so the change will happen only when we put our efforts and thoughts together and reconstruct thought patterns. Thanks to Grace for gracefully beginning this battle that should have started long ago.