When Jerry Pinto sent us the manuscript of The Right Kind of Dog, we decided to do it, at once. Not because it was recommended by Jerry; not because the poems were written by Adil Jussawala, but because the poems slammed us with their beauty and we felt they needed to be published. Children, young people, people, don’t read poetry any more. We blame it on schools, we blame it on how poetry is taught. Maybe thats true. I read a little bit of poetry, and I’m never sure that I’ve understood a poem completely, but I’ve begun to see that it does not matter.
A good poem slams you – you don’t know why and what and the analysis comes later, if it comes at all, but the first thing it does is bam! in the gut! And that’s what the poems in this book did to me. Which is why I didn’t need to think, are these poems really good? Do I know what I’m talking about? Because it doesn’t matter. The poems in this book opened up places in my head; they did what I think poems ought to do: for a moment they made me see the world differently. So go ahead, see the world a little differently; read The Right Kind of Dog.
As a children’s editor, most of the poetry I get to read professionally is rhyming and happy. And poetry for young adults was a very new concept for me. So I was not sure what to expect when I started reading Adil’s poems.
But the experience of reading them was electrifying. On the one hand, I wanted to rush and read the next one, greedy for the words and images and thoughts. On the other, I wanted to linger and savour.
We all lead complicated lives, but perhaps none so complicated as young adults. And what Adil does, superlatively, quietly, beautifully, is to capture this complexity and darkness and light. At the centre of many poems are the young adults–facing history, politics, conflicts, but also nature, environment, school–and the images and sounds make you want to go back and read it all over again.
I wish I could have read them when I was a teenager.