There is a Persian proverb that says: “Epigrams succeed where epics fail.” I was so struck by this line, I chose to name my forthcoming book of aphorisms, Where Epics Fail, to be published through an innovative crowd-sourcing publisher, Unbound, in partnership with Penguin Random House. Composed over a 10-year period, the subtitle of my latest collection of brief meditations is Art, Morality and the Life of the Spirit — three life-giving spheres of our existence where the grand narratives seem to be failing to hold our attention or capture our imagination. “Poetry is an act of peace. Peace goes into the making of a poet as flour goes into the making of bread,” says poet Pablo Neruda. As an immigrant and Muslim and writer living in Trump’s bewildering America, I sense this peace-mission with renewed urgency. Also, as a citizen of our increasingly polarized world, I feel called upon to use my art, in some way, to try and alleviate the mounting fear and loathing, directed at those of different backgrounds/faith traditions.
The 800 or so aphorisms in Where Epics Fail are what is worth quoting from my soul’s dialogue with itself, yes, but they are, I hope, more than a series of personal reflections. On one level, they are addressed to general readers or lovers of language, and specifically resonate with those who appreciate wit and wisdom: pithy sayings, inspirational or spiritual sustenance in a sentence. On a deeper level, the aphorisms in my new book are intended for seekers, thinkers and devotees of beauty, who share my belief that it is art’s duty to try and ‘make a joyful noise’. It is my passionate wish that, in the short meditations found in Epics, readers will encounter thoughts that might begin to liberate and heal (their wounded selves, and in turn, our wounded world). Aphorisms are headlines, but they are also the stories — inviting readers of sensitivity and conscience to breathe life into them, by living at a higher level of consciousness.