Feeding the Ghosts
Published by: The University Press of Kentucky
Imprint: The University Press of Kentucky
Sales Date: 03/05/2024
Find the beauty. In 2017, writer and educator Rahul Mehta began a writing practice to find solace and beauty—in the natural world, in their family and friends, and in everyday simplicities—during a time of political tensions, environmental disasters, a global pandemic, and personal disappointment. From the vibrant color of a blade of grass, to their dog sleeping quietly in the corner, to delicate petals fallen from a rose, a mindfulness of the beauty in their surroundings helped offset the feelings of fear, outrage, and helplessness. The result of this exercise is a profoundly moving poetry collection that explores Mehta's South Asian and Appalachian culture, their Queerness, their relationships with self and others, race, privilege, and a deep admiration of nature and the spiritual realm.
With the ear of a poet and a novelist's understanding of narrative motion, Mehta draws in the reader through humor, tenderness, and complexity. This debut poetry collection from the Lambda Literary Award–winning writer is a magnificent celebration of our own ordinary yet miraculous daily lives—an acknowledgement of the "messy beauty... ugly beauty" in the world.
The poems in Feeding the Ghosts will both break you open and heal you. Here, a journal entry begins, 'Dear One, I'm sorry that today is difficult for you. I'm sorry that you are suffering.' Mehta's poems grapple with many-layered burdens—grief, heartache, personal and professional disappointments—while offering the profound gift of showing us how to hold our struggles with a capacious sense of generosity, compassion, and gratitude. Amid pandemic restrictions and political tensions around race, class, and gender, Mehta's brown, queer, first-generation speaker invokes nature, memory, tradition, and family as a balm to self and reader alike. With heartbreaking clarity and precision, Mehta's poems illuminate the soul's deep sufferings while seeking solace in everyday joys: 'the snowdrops' heads bowed / in prayer.' The poems offer a way through shadow without turning away from darkness, glinting at times with playfulness as the speaker puns on 'antcestors' crawling on a dining table or daydreams of dancing in a drenched sari on a neighbor's tulips. Mehta's compelling narrative threads are woven with moments of prayer and lyricism, reflecting the 'refuge' offered by their 'small blue notebook, / and in waves crashing on shore.' The poems of Feeding the Ghost will leave you transformed as Mehta's intimate voice and gift for metaphor 'write and rewrite the world.'~Dilruba Ahmed, author of Bring Now the Angels
In their probing debut poetry collection, Rahul Mehta delves cycles of seasons, cycles of suffering, cycles of persistent aliveness. The poems in Feeding the Ghosts don't offer solutions to racism & homophobia, to trauma and grief: rather, they provide accompaniment, witness, wonder. Here we discover a profundity of the will to sever, to continue, to shape-shift into belonging as a daily practice toward uncovering and claiming beauty.~Purvi Shah, author of Miracle Marks
Rahul Mehta has the gift of care, meaning in their hands the images and lines of the poem create a place in which the characters, situations, histories, and feelings therein are treated with tenderness and generosity. It is not an easy position to be vulnerable especially considering the difficulties of alienation and sorrow that lie within. In the end these poems are not only a record of a life lived, but like the best of poetry, they offer to a reader light and balm.~Kazim Ali, author of Sukun: New and Selected Poems