In Brooke Sahni's debut, Divining, the complexities of a young woman's religious and cultural inheritances are plumbed in poems that resist easy simplifications. Sahni fashions a web of her own between Sikhism and Judaism, India and America.
Brooke Sahni is a native of Cleveland, Ohio but has been living in the Southwest for the past ten years. Her poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as Prairie Schooner, Nimrod, The Massachusetts Review, 32 Poems, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. She holds a BFA and an MFA in Creative Writing and is currently living and teaching in New Mexico.
"Sikh or Jewish?" Brooke Sahni asks herself in Divining, her award-winning chapbook debut, delving into her mixed heritage from India and America, from Judaism and Sikhism—Sikh, which as a child she spelled seek, which is what Sahni does in this beautiful, searching collection. "Torah, they say you are holy..." she writes in a poem that explores both text and body, mapping one to the other, concluding, "There's a way to read myself—" To read these poems is to witness a young writer finding herself as both a woman and as a person with a unique spiritual identity.
In Divining, Brooke Sahni's poems exalt the borders between human and divine, child and woman, and her personal need to understand her inheritances. Sahni writes, "so many things are calling us / in and out of ourselves," which is the way these fine poems operate, moving in and out of the seemingly incongruent wisdoms this world offers, to create a spiritual self. Who else could write: "I am too young to conceptualize the soul / what I mean is, I don't think about metaphor"? In poems full of beauty and inquiry, Sahni takes nothing for granted.