By Mouj Hijazi –
Shahd al Balushi, a 20-year-old Omani, fell in love with poetry years ago in school, when analysing poems in English class. She then began writing poetry at the age of 15. In 2017, she came first place in Penned Thoughts, The Annual Ali Mehdi Young Writers Competition in Oman. Today, she has her own poetry book available for purchase.
Shahd, who also goes by the pen name Nectar B., is currently studying in Glasgow. When she heard that Speculative Books, a Scottish publishing company, were accepting poetry submissions, she wasted no time in sending hers in. Before she knew it, they asked her to send in a collection of her poems for publication.
The book, ‘All Shades of Blue’, acquired this name because to Shahd, the colour blue symbolises a range of things, from peace and healing to sadness and uncertainty. A fitting name for a poetry book encompassing themes of the ups and downs of mental health. It is comprised of Shahd’s best work from 2016 up until now.
“I spent a month writing new poems to add to my old ones for the collection and sent it through. Then we worked together on refining it until we had the final draft ready in October and it was announced in November!”, she said
What attracted Shahd to poetry was the ability to express oneself while being vague, and its openness to interpretation.
“With poetry you can hide behind ambiguity, interpretations and symbolism, and still leave your reader pondering about the meaning. I loved that about poetry,” Shahd explained.
“The poems tell a coming of age story that explores my mental health during the past few years, and also showcases my attempts at trying to live outside of my mother’s shadow,” shared Shahd.
She hopes that by sharing her poetry and mental health struggles, she is helping anybody dealing with similar issues, especially considering certain taboo topics.
“Because mental health is so stigmatised in our community, I wanted to let them know that they are not alone. I hope that this would encourage others to not be afraid of expressing themselves. It’s important to have a healthy outlet like that.”
Shahd also made sure to include warning for certain poems that are dark and potentially triggering to some.
She spoke of the poems striking a chord with readers. “I haven’t heard much yet, but I do know of tears that have been shed.”
“I really hope that my poems resonate with people because, ironically, I know what it’s like to not know the words to express how you feel,” she added.
But not all of Shahd’s poetry is poignant. She writes about the things that she enjoys, too, and switches up her writing style. Some have been inspired by fictional characters, such as ‘Dear Artist’, or people she has observed, like ‘The Laundry Room’.
“It’s hard to pick a favourite when all of them mean so much to me. But if I had to pick one, it would be ‘Grounded’ because it reminds me of all the little things in life that bring me joy,” said Shahd.
In terms of future plans, Shahd aspires to continue writing both poetry and prose, and expand into the world of fictional novels.
You can purchase ‘All Shades of Blue’ here: https://www.speculativebooks.net/shop/shahd