I absolutely love May by Kim Abi Zeid Daou. This book is a collection “of odes, poems short stories and prose interwoven with themes of collective memory, coming of age and feminism.” Yet it feels like so much more.

Cover of book, May, with image of eye on face

Kim’s imagery, combined with addressing real issues in women’s lives, is beautifully written. Each poem is a self-contained story, yet reading the poems feels like one full narrative. It is a journey through girlhood, including both its ups and downs. Yet along the way, it also a reflection on growing older and the relationships that women have with one another. While reading, I felt the warmth of the sun and the arms of my father, the pain of realizing a loved one’s mortality, the sorrow over hiding a secret you know you shouldn’t but do to protect those you love, and the weight of age as it begins to break down your memory and youth fades.

After reading the book, I asked Kim if I could publish my favorite excerpt – the introductory poem about her father. She gave us permission, so here is perhaps my favorite passage, one that reminds me of joy, youth, and love:

And I

In the midst

Of rustling branches,

Rustling branches

That appease,

My heartbeats

Orchestrate my soothing

Breathing.

And nature

And I

And I

And nature

Feel at peace,

A tender harmony.

As I inhale the fragrance

Of my dad’s flowers

And his perfume.

I bloom,

I always bloom,

He nurtures

And I

Will always bloom.

The words above hooked me instantly. They reminded me of my own father’s gentle love, how he encourages me to bloom. Throughout May, I felt that love – a love that encourages, protects, cares, and comforts. May is, ultimately, a narrative that brought alive the best parts of family and the memories, the love, that truly shape us.

I could not put this book down until I was finished, and even then felt I needed to reread it just to smell the flowers, feel the friendship, and dive deep into loss and longing again. A truly great read!

– Tiffany Rhoades, Program Developer

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