Poetry makes me believe that magic exists. It breathes new life to the stories and experiences that shape us, it reminds me of the power and weight of words, and leads me to look inwards and find my own words, too.
In his sophomore collection, Hazem Fahmy carefully weaves together the lyrics of Frank Ocean’s discography as a matter of accounting for the blending of two places separated by the ocean. He explores themes of family, gender, and identity (finding his place and meaning) through beautiful storytelling and prose.
This poetry collection is absolutely captivating and will make you think about how certain experiences (and even artists, albums, and songs) shape your life. I was easily captivated by Fahmy’s words, and the way he so seamlessly strings together memories and experiences with specific lyrics from songs found on Frank Ocean’s “Nostalgia, Ultra” mixtape and the albums “channel ORANGE”, “Endless, and “Blonde”.
We are all so shaped and influenced by what we see on TV and social media, what we listen to on the radio, and what we read. I, like Fahmy, connect with music on another level, and am drawn to the beauty and rhythm of delicate strings of words and lyrics. In one poem, Fahmy recounts a family argument at home in which he avoids by turning up the volume on a Frank Ocean song. Music can heal and drown out the pain and hurt in which we are exposed to, and even if only temporary, memories about music’s healing powers have the ability to stick with us for a lifetime.
I was most drawn to Fahmy’s poem “Frank Haunts Me Across A Decade”, as he writes: “I wanted the fleeing ecstasy only possible in the minutes of a Frank Ocean song.” Fahmy reminds us that music can heal, support, and mend us, but at the end of the day, it can only do so much. I think that no matter what we are going through, what journey we are on, or what we are seeking in life, we are all in search of a feeling — a feeling that comes from music that makes us feel most alive.
“Waiting for Frank Ocean in Cairo” is out on March 18! Thank you, Half Mystic Press, for the eARC!
About the Author
Hazem Fahmy is a writer and critic from Cairo. His debut chapbook Red//Jild//Prayer won the 2017 Diode Editions Contest. Half Mystic is an independent, internationally-acclaimed publishing house and literary journal dedicated to the celebration of music in all its forms.