Sabreen Islam, a 19-year-old second-year law and sociology student at the University of Auckland, has self-published a book full of poems discussing her journey through mental health and abusive and toxic relationships.
Illustrated by artist Alice Waldow, Sabreen’s poems detail love and loss, breaking and healing, winter and spring. Titled Spring Clean, the beautifully illustrated anthology sees the young Muslim author transition through a season of her life as a teenager during which she suffered severe bullying, these dark days followed by a period of healing and internal growth.
The book also explores the psychology of abuse and why people can’t just ‘leave’ in many such situations. Sabreen says this is an issue that needs deconstructing so that others can understand just how trapped a person can feel in abusive situations.
For Sabreen, writing poetry is cathartic and Spring Clean helped her to process the struggles she experienced.
“I didn’t intend to share the collection when I was writing it, but I started showing it to people over the years. I showed it to my dad and my English teacher, and a lot of people encouraged me to put it out there. It’s always scary being vulnerable, but a year or so after I wrote it I thought yes, it would be great if I could help others by sharing.”