September 29, 2023


Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Review: The Silk of Hunger, a collection of poems by Vinita Agrawal

2 min read

By Neeti Singh


‘The Silk of Hunger’ by Vinita Agrawal is a collection of 30 crisp elegiac poems embedded in urban sensibility, a wide range of symbols and thick metaphor. This collection of poems which is dedicated to the poet’s late father, makes a tidy offering – like a bouquet of the finest of roses in shades of black to burgundy – it is an epitaph that is both an offering and a coming to terms with loss, absence and the finality of death.

These tightly knit poems that are somber in tone and brilliant in terms of poetic craft and structure, deeply move and nourish as they foray with surgical precision, through symbol, narrative and objective inquiry, into the emotion or experience at hand. Mostly pain, separation and death – be it the death of an animal, a planet, a town, a relationship or a father – the loss must be faced and purged squarely so that a catharsis can be achieved and a closure struck by both the grieving poet and all of grieving humanity.

To overcome personal loss and the separation of death, Vinita settles with immanence –


(father, and)

Yet there will be no separation

no parting, no distance

You shall live through me.

Somewhere each of us shall feel this warmth

In the cold cold rain.’

‘Invertebrate Beginnings’, the very first poem establishes the fact of circularity – in the beginning is  embodied an end ‘I wish I could feel right now/ what I will feel at the end.’ In this poem Vinita tropes upon the pond of life with its sunny surface shine and dark belly depths. The rich fusion of sensuality and experience that sculpts and extends the central metaphor of the poem showcases Vinita’s unique idiom and stylistic strengths. To quote a few lines from the poem, that I enjoyed immensely :

‘What I want is deep

The thick bottom of wet earth at the pond’s belly

Where the mud tightens over your ankles

In a fist like grip, making us revel in its hold

So that you know you are planted in it –

A lotus stem – delirious with feeling’s water.’

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