“A quick opening for a quick life. Hurry and make a story…”

Little Words is a compilation of prose and poems, each addressing key themes relevant to everyday life. All 11 chapters tell a story about a time in the author’s life and in all of ours by extension as she explores different contemporary themes.

In Childhood, Amife Sabatina, debut author and lover of life and stories knows what it feels like to weave words into prose and poetry and starts off with a time-honored truth about life and death in Born. She draws you with the brevity and how one must make the most of one’s time on earth. In The Great Outdoors, she dwells on being one with nature and the need to take life one day at a time. Simplicity addresses the joy and uncomplicatedness of childhood as seen through the eyes of the author and especially strikes a chord as she draws reference from an Enid Blyton book. The Smell of Books harps on the author’s relationship with books and the little comforts of turning the pages of a good book like “places running off of pages”. A Letter To My 10-Year Old Self discusses the theme of contentment from a 22-year old version of the author to her 10-year old self as she navigates life even where she encounters disappointments and broken dreams.

Clay Body opens with The Broken Mirror, a conversation around women’s bodies and the unnecessary importance society continues to attach to that topic.

Hard Things opens with Colonialism: The Remainder Tools, discussing the immigrant experience of needing to choose a permanent home while battling the nagging question of identity. My Grandmother’s Hands is a flowery verse about the beauty of connection the author shares with her grandmother and an ode to memory of storytelling.

The author and every appreciative patron of life and the arts has had to answer this question at one point in life which is Who Are You? a story of social media and its addictive lure demonstrating how far it goes in defining people even when all they want is to take a deep breath after a long day. Solitude is a cry for help especially in these times where social media can be toxic and invasive and ends with a charge to the reader to detox and recharge in order to give back.

“You are my fellow strangeness. You are my kindred spirit” starts off the title prose – Kindred Spirits, where the author shows her prowess in weaving complex verses in a way the average reader can understand the connection between souls in families and relationships as well. Sabatina tells the story of the beauty of just being and resisting the pressure of societal expectations in More Alive.

We love love especially the way the author spins the first lines in Love capturing the giddiness of being in love in free-flowing verse with the reader getting all the feels even though they are just words on the pages of a book. Idyllic leads us into the mind of a 19-year old version of the author as she navigates different needs and wants of a typical teenager. In Water and The Sea, we see the author’s love for water and her extolling the calming effects on her as a person. Gliding In The Sky explores the urgency of “changing postcodes” and the difficulty of achieving this dream. In The Way I See Today, the beauty of enjoying life is explored in short but hard-hitting verse.

“Hug me like I’m air

And you are desperate to survive”

Sheesh!!!! Hugs evokes the emotional support and security of a loved one. Idling closes out the fifth chapter as it should with a message to the reader to “not give up sweet idle”.

Societal expectations are everywhere we look – families, school, church and even with loved ones so one can relate to Youth, A Drying Stream discussing everyday pressure of adulthood and the ever-present sting of societal expectation on “behaviour”. Next, Anxiety nudges the reader to let burdens and worries go but ends with a reminder of its hovering presence. Swallow touches briefly on the concept of “imposter syndrome” and the never ending doubt of not being good enough.  Growth grows on the reader taking one through the “anxiety and depression” phase to becoming a better person. Happiness touches briefly on mankind’s constant search for the elusive concept of “happiness” and advises the reader to enjoy everyday – worries, flaws and all.

Have you felt heartbreak, like the bone-crushing kind where you feel unimaginable physical pain? We find that in Love Leaving which gives us a taste of heartbreak and how love is not as simple as it sounds. I Love A Thing That Leaves goes in on the why of heartbreaks and the light at the end of the tunnel for broken hearts. Good Friendships is a poem for friends that feel like heaven on a shitty day.  Butterfly, Katydid, Starfish, Hoopoe and Robin discusses the beauty of friendships blossoming into one great big family over time. Loneliness rounds off with the pain of unrequited love.

Humans is an insight into who we are as “human beings” and the uniqueness of our existence.  In Feeling Deeply, the author makes a case for letting our fear and worries go.  Tears remind us about our frailty as human beings and the need to embrace it – warts and all.  Melody closes out the chapter with a spring in the reader’s mind, soul and spirit.

In a world constantly propagating the idea of perfection, The Broken Mirror Shards portrays a much needed reflection of self-love; one that urges the reader to view themselves through the gentle lens of love and kindness. Rain brings comfort to a tired spirit after a long day. Day is Day, Night is Night discusses the danger of high expectations with a word of advice to the reader to “breathe and live life”. Wordsmithing is a short, simple but flowing verse about the beauty of creation. Heading Towards The Sun leads the reader to believe in themselves regardless of stacked odds.

Everyday comes with its own lessons to be learnt and this we see played out real time in Learning How To Live as the authors talks about life’s challenges and shares valuable lessons in the same vein. Big Wild World sees the author making a clarion call for the reader to appreciate nature in all its fineness. Novel Desires tugs at your heartstring as a reader to live your life on your own terms. Road Trips rounds off the chapter with the author’s healing journey through life.

We all have dreams that we want to achieve even when faced with our fear and this the author tries to address by putting our minds at ease in The Fear Swap by letting us into her headspace with a charge to the reader to “do everything in life afraid” because it’s all “fear or presence”. Time’s Wish ends the collection with a call to the reader to enjoy life’s gifts and not necessarily capture its fleeting moments without “willing it to freeze” in a selfie.

Most of these poems take on the subject of mental health, imposter syndromes, first love, heartbreak and related themes while ensuring that the author’s poetic messages get across to the reader in subtle but deep meanings. This collection is riveting, relevant, timely and a testament to the author’s bravery and honesty which is draped over each poem and prose. Sabatina delivers with her debut and I can’t wait to see where her next literary journey takes her and me as the reader.