A Wonder WomanThis collection could so easily have been titled “Wonder Woman” but there is the important addition of the indefinite article. Wonderful though her story is, Kuli Kohli, open-hearted and generous by nature, knows that she is not the only person to be blessed in life. Look inside and you will see that she dedicates this book “to all the wonder women”. The dedication is followed by an exclamation mark that not only says something about her zest for life but also suggests that this expression is not to be taken too seriously. Like the domestic goddess, Kuli does not put herself on a pedestal. We can all aspire to something greater than we are, but in reality we are just individuals humbly getting on with the business of our lives.
The range of her subject matter is impressive: on a personal level she writes powerfully about disability and her determination to survive and thrive. On a local level her poems convey to us the beauty and fragility of the changing landscape in the urban and rural areas of the West Midlands. In the wider scheme of things she writes about life under lockdown, prejudice, the Paralympics and religious festivals. There are poems about her family, her father’s love of gardening, a response to a miniature painting from Lucknow, snapshots of suburbia in Goldthorn Park, the simple pleasure of making a garam chai (a cup of hot, spicy tea) and a study of a couple having lunch in the rain.
There are a couple of visual poems in the collection: ‘A Woman Like Me’ and ‘Partition Of A Homeland’ These two very different poems make their power felt on the page. The former, a curvaceous text that is cinched at the waist, reads like a mock manifesto for a domestic goddess. It makes its point with the minimum of fuss sending the reader back to the myth of the wonder woman. The latter relates to the time when the British government divided India into two countries and three parts creating mass movement and instability leading to the displacement and death of millions of people. The displacement is expressed visually by means of a gap which starts in the title and then divides every line of the poem as it runs down the page. The text in itself makes for some powerful reading. For me, this is most important poem in the book even though it is not central to its overall theme.
These powerful poems are full of surprises that express an unabashed appreciation for the world we live in, a generous helping of home-grown wisdom and a love for all of humanity.
Kuli Kohli’s poetry has come out of a long process of finding her voice and understanding her life and its imposed limits. She writes fluently in a variety of styles and forms and tells us a great deal about what it’s like to be an Asian woman with disabilities in modern Britain. It is by turns moving and funny. She should be an inspiration to us all.
Simon Fletcher - Poet and Publisher
I've known this incredible lady all my life and have very fond memories of our childhood (ooh the stories her siblings and I could tell!). Those of you who know her will know that she's a keen writer and I for one can vouch for her passion for expressing her views, feelings and dreams through her writing. Whilst some may see her cerebral palsy as a 'set back' or 'limitation', I believe that it has given her the courage, determination and foundation to pursue her dreams and become a published writer. I'm really proud that she's now accomplished her lifelong dream and written a collection of poems which depict her life as a woman, an Asian living in the UK, a person who has faced stigma and discrimination and also as a person of dreams. I would highly recommend that anyone interested in poetry buys her book 'Rag Doll'. My favourite poem from the book has to be 'A Woman Like Me'. You won't be disappointed!
Monica Shafaq, Chief Executive of The Kaleidoscope Plus Group
I've started to explore the pieces in your book 'Rag Doll'. There are loads of ideas in these pages. Some are quite melancholy, some amusing and some thought-provoking... and it is well written. I do get the distress of the 'Partition of My Homeland' and 'Stubborn Roots'. I like 'Millions' which has a simple theme exploited in very creative ways. 'Brown Girl in the Rain' with a humorous nod to the pop song is painted expressively with fine images that certainly conjure autumnal memories. 'Season of Freedom', at the opposite end of the calendar, must resonate for a million prisoners of winter in this country. And 'Going West to the Wrekin' delightfully descriptive of nature in various forms.
Al Barz - Poet and Stage Actor/Retired Lecturer
Never heard of her... have you? This lady paints pictures with words. The depth and breadth of her work is stunning. Buy the book (Rag Doll - Peacock Feather Press). You'll be glad you did. And I keep picking her book up and reading it. I know it might sound a little sycophantic but her work is amazing! And, it's got nothing to do with the fact that she has C.P. Okay, she might draw on it, to use it, but it doesn't change the fact that her work stands up for itself. So... when is the next book coming out?
Barry Harper - Actor, Broadcaster, Musician
Congratulations on your publication of Rag Doll. I have just read all the pages of your book after work. Truly tremendous! Did only want to read a few pages but I could not stop as I wanted to read more. Well done to you!
Kuljit Bhangu - Kumon Instructor, Blakenhall Kumon Study Centre