Poetry has, since its conception in circa 1500 BC, transpired as the immensely diverse and influential literary genre that it is today: The bridge navigating to and connecting disparate realms and epochs of humanity in action. Though fast-forwarded as far as in-between centuries, a careful look at its timeline evidences the impact this genre had on human history: It materialized from the endeavors of the Aryans as sacrificial hymns; attained a most prominent stronghold in 1257 through Sa’di’s parables in verse; achieved one of the portals of perfection in the Sufi ghazals of Hafız c. 1370; served as a sociological testimony in 1461 in Francois Villon’s Ballad of the Ladies of Times Past; molded by Lord Byron in 1819 into an epic satirical commentary on contemporary life; delivered an account for the heightened Victorian sensibility in the hands of Alfred Tennyson in 1850; transformed through Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” into a permanent remembrance of collective lament over the assassination of President Lincoln; functioned in Verlaine’s studies of ‘cursed poets’ in 1884 as ‘red alert’ toward raising awareness for the importance of socio-political consciousness; offered a historical account of the Civil War in 1928 in a narrative verse by Stephen V. Benét; voiced in the same year the art of a supposed minority with the famed Gypsy Ballads of Garcia Lorca; brought vital attention to the subjugation of Mexico in the form of a narrative epic, Conquistador, composed by Archibald MacLeish in 1932; distributed critical lessons on the legalized ‘oppression’ (a term used here to soften the facts of the past and present) of black communities in contemporary USA –in 1949, in a narrative verse by Gwendolyn Brooks and in 1953 and 1962, each time, in the shape of a novel by James Baldwin. made known in 1990 another masterful yet so-called ‘minority’ throughout Derek Walcott’s Omeros, an epic poem of the Caribbean, and so on. In this collection of poems, all of which are modestly titled as mere numbers, Fahredin Shehu offers his immense knowledge of the cultural history of the world and of its philosophical, mystical and religious traditions as were his book a replica of the timeline of poetry highlighted in the summary above. For his poetic offerings assume the significance of a delicately laid out blue print –one that encompasses the contributions of this art form to humanity at large. All along, the author opens by example and one by one the multiple inter-connecting layers of various schools of this genre. Shehu unravels, thus his keen insight into and mastery of their teachings, generously sharing many of the specifics –once again, by example alone. There are no lecture-like utterances on which the author depends. His work consists of poetry at its peak of refinement in its seemingly simple yet complicated demands for the form, imagery, tone, mood and content. Have I already said how refined of a success Shehu’s embodiment is, of poetry at its best, that is? Throughout the poem “1”, for example –not to exclude many others, we are witnessing a narrative in verse through which the author takes us along on his travel, supposedly, to his memories of the Neolithic era and offers us a rich and colorful imagery that serves us as a trayful memorabilia in time and space to consume (e.g. ‘arrows attacking his being’s tunic’, his “thoughts travelling in the canyons” which ‘cross’ an “old cemetery”, ‘tree branches’ donning ‘owls’, ‘epitaph sprinkling pigeon’ defecations, all inside a picturesque scenery which includes “fireflies” beyond a “Heaven torn apart” over “golden wheat fields” depicting also a personally familiar persona, “Nanny” though yielding to the ‘coming’ of “men […] the real stallions” after which “nothing” is “left to lose” yet “the palm of an Archangel” appears at that moment of suggested despair). In the poem, titled “3”, we are being served “a blueprint of the Cosmic entity”; in “5” and, more blatantly, in “8”, we are taken to the doorsteps of our present times when the “Bloody Ignoramus” is adamantly at work –yet once again –in his/her mis-treatment, mis-representation and elimination of poets, compassionate humans, world religions, different ethnicities (excluding that of his/her own) and native tongues (once again, excluding that of what he monopolizes as his/her own); in “14”, we become a witness to the poet’s celebration of what disguises as ‘darkness’ yet is an invite to awareness of goings-on in the world of the past and the present, not disregarding what could, in fact, be happening (or is already taking place right now) to humanity at large, if we were to lend an unseeing eye to the wrong-doings by those in power and strive to continue to be the only ruling constructs; in “20”, we are guided through thoughts of healing from the ills of the world where the “Poet / who speaks the language of Doves” interjects to remind us all that “we all breathe with the Grand Consciousness” and in “27”, we are gifted a profound message as Neon Child ends: It is a violet color Of the deeply mysterious subtlety of the heart Centered deeply in the crown of the brain Of those who think The Point of Unity is spreading across To reveal ‘e’ beatific of the Hidden It keeps secrets of the laws Governing the Universe of the Seen and Unseen Also ends here my attempt to relate to you the offerings of Neon Child, but not before I share with you one of my most celebrated experiences: Great fortune visited me last year when I attended the Kosovo 2017 International Poetry Festival in the town where Fahredin Shehu resides, works and creates his incredible poetic art. Reading and becoming closely familiar with his literary work had long ago instilled in me a heightened sense of admiration and respect for him. Meeting him in person, then, elevated all of my unshakably soul-imprinted impressions of the author’s achievements as far as his use of English as his literary language (as opposed to his native tongue): Not only was Fahredin remarkable as a person –the warmest-hearted, most accepting, most approachable and most accessible kind but he also was ‘armed’ with a mastery of this dominant world language in spoken contexts as well. Now . . . I would under no circumstances miss the chance here to mention his amazing singing voice. In his mother tongue, in English and Turkish (my native language), at that! When the author’s achievements, accomplishments and teachings by example through poetry alone are concerned, there is much more to add to my humble words. I will refrain from doing so; for, my intent was to yield to a glimpse of this poetic work, Neon Child. His hands-on contributions to other art forms, humanity’s betterment-driven undertakings and creative approaches to education at large –to spiritual teachings, in particular, have been excluded from this introductory piece. I want to hope that I have, to satisfactory extent, succeeded in communicating to you my intent. Whether such is the case or not, it is time now for me to extend to you a due invitation: To embark on the informative, awareness-raising and picturesquely descriptive ‘travels’ of Fahredin Shehu on which he takes us all through the masterful traits of authentic poetry as he has created it. The blueprint of this art form’s timeline –as the author has embedded within the perimeters of lyrical symphonies across the world that surpass the divide of time and space, being the core element of his noble offerings.
hülya n. yılmaz, Ph.D. Liberal Arts professor,
Penn State University
Director of Editing Services, Inner Child Press LTD.