The Minister of Disturbances
Author: Zeeshan Khan Pathan
Publisher: Diode Editions (2020)
In his startling debut, The Minister of Disturbances, Zeeshan Pathan interrogates and subverts the calcified notions of identity (whether Islamic or American or human), the rules of citizenship, & the idea of the nation state. Unafraid of blending the lyrical and the political, he dramatizes the inner journey of the poet as his speakers confront world events including global climate change, the Afghan and Iraq wars, political conflicts from Egypt to India, American imperialism, the idea of the surveillance state, the aftermath of global terrorism, medical illness, displacement and exile. In love with Lorca and Thomas James, his poems seamlessly move from the romantic to the devastating. The weather of these poems is bleak and ridden with the pain of expulsion & dislocation. Language, for Pathan, is a means to restoration and reclamation but the speakers never fully arrive at complete healing and perhaps, that is the power of the collection. There is beauty and truth here, as Keats had once famously intimated, all great poetry should have. And not simply pearls of beautiful lies.
The Minister of Disturbances confronts the reader with poems that are both tender and terrifying. Though the poet is interested in beauty and in love with poets like Shelley and Hannah Weiner, “with [his] own rampant mouth”, he tells the story of exile, alienation, and hauntingly describes the innumerable moments of a life lived in the shadows of faraway American wars and the resulting global tumult from the eyes of an American Muslim. Zeeshan Pathan was born in Memphis, Tennessee & he has lived in several major American cities including New York City. In 2016, he moved to Istanbul several months before the advent of the Trump Presidency—having completed his graduate studies at Columbia University. In poem after poem, he seeks a language which can capture the horror of our times but never once forgets that his tongue “is stained by the carnivorous ink of history.” This necessary collection is at once lyrical as much as it is rampant with ravishment and mournful of irrefutable ruptures.