Still Waters – Kamal Parmar

Watching a loved one with Alzheimer’s decline is an experience too many of us share, and the overwhelming sadness and worry each of us express is familiar and somehow brand-new distress at the same time. Kamal Parmar’s poetry collection, Still Waters, is a memoir of a daughter watching her mother disappear to Alzheimer’s, trying to understand her mother’s perspective of the situation, while trying to keep a lid on her own pain. Short but raw, Parmar’s poems capture the back and forth of Alzheimer’s, the confusion and anger, and the pain of loving someone who doesn’t know who you are anymore.

My grandmother suffered from Alzheimer’s in the last 10 years of her life, and in Parmar’s poems I saw my mother, struggling to take care of her mother, while having to explain who she was to my grandmother. Parmar captures the grief of trying to maintain any kind of relationship with your declining loved one: hiding your pain and trying to keep them calm. Trying to understand how they must feel about it, and in fact the most powerful poems in the collection are not the ones where Parmar expresses the viewpoints of the family, but the ones from the viewpoint of the mother, struggling to understand what is happening, why her face is old in the mirror, who these people are, floating between lucidity and grasping for memories that aren’t there.

Then something snaps
and you become a stranger
out of nowhere. (I still remember, page 34)

If you’ve had personal experience with Alzheimer’s, this will be a challenging collection to read, though somewhat comforting, because it reminds you that you aren’t alone. Other people have had the same conversations with their family, the same arguments, and the same grief clouding their lives. Still Waters is a sensitive examination of memory and what it means to love someone who can’t remember you.


About the Author

Kamal Parmar has been passionately involved in writing since high school and University. Her genre is poetry and creative non-fiction and she dabbles frequently with Haiku poetry. She has a few books published in the UK, Canada and India and many publications in US and Canadian literary journals and anthologies. Many of her poems have received Honorable mentions and prizes. Kamal has been a member of several writers’ organizations and Writers’ Guilds.  Currently, she is an Associate Member of the League of Canadian Poets and a Board member of the Federation of BC  Writers.  She is also a member of Haiku Canada, the Canadian Authors Association and The Writers Union of Canada with whom she is a voluntary peer reviewer.

  • Publisher : Silver Bow (Oct. 2 2020)
  • Language : English
  • ISBN-10 : 1774031248
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1774031247

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Alison Manley bounced around the Maritimes before landing in Miramichi, NB, where she works as a hospital librarian. She has an honours BA in political science and English from St. Francis Xavier University, and a Master of Library and Information Studies from Dalhousie University. When she's not reading biomedical research for her work, she likes reading poetry, contemporary and historical fiction, and personal essays. Noted for a love of bright colours (and lipstick), you can find her wandering the banks of the Miramichi River with a book and a paintbrush.

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