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Book Review: A Tenant of the World by Madhura Banerjee

By Nilesh Mondal

A Tenant of The World_COVER-1Title: A Tenant of the World

Author: Madhura Banerjee
Publisher: Power Publishers
Pages: 79
Price: Rs 110

 

“The world is but a book, and those who don’t travel read only one page”, Augustine Hippo said, thus making travelling and literature two sides of the same coin, one a necessity for the other. Travelling doesn’t just open up new places to us, it also opens our eyes to newer perspectives, enables us to see the same places in a different light. Madhura Banerjee’s debut collection of poetry, A Tenant of the World, published by Power Publishers, aims to do just that by introducing us to familiar places, and helping us look and familiarise ourselves with them through her eyes, an attempt in which she succeeds to a large extent.

Madhura establishes from the beginning of the book itself what her idea of travelling is: the mingling of myriad cultures and taking the stories from one city and spreading it into the corners of another. Poetry for her is akin to the traveller’s spirit, unperturbed by boundaries and borders, spread across a range of geographical dissimilarities. The scope of her poetry stretches from the mountains of Kashmir, Himachal and North Bengal, to the age-old cities of Lucknow and Calcutta and even the illustrious desert of Rajasthan. Her voice is bold and seldom constricted, easily shifting from the dreamy narratives about the majestic Himalayas, to the nostalgic ruminations about changing cityscapes. This versatility of narration is in all probability, the most interesting part about her book.

This becomes apparent when we consider two very different poems, the first one called ‘If Pahalgam Were Love’, where she writes:

“Love is the conical shaft of highway highlights
Caught mid-flicker, against the wicker of fir,
Letting the red molten wax of daybreak
Flow into the valley of flowers mid-bloom”

The serenity in her tone however is swapped for one that depicts a sense of urgency in the poem ‘Bengali Jetties’, where she writes:

“When it rained at an unusual hour
In an unusual time that April,
It filled the trails of your footprints-
A muddy assurance of your departure-
Weighing down the red dust,
Making agony resist the summer wind.”

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Traffic Constable and Returning home: Two poems by Sriramgokul Chinnasamy

Traffic Constable and Returning home

SriramgokulSriramgokul Chinnasamy lives in India and has M.A. in Creative Writing from Teesside University, UK. His poems have appeared in Envoi, Taj Mahal Review, Live from Worktown, Through the Cracks, and Muse India. In 2016, he was shortlisted in the Cinnamon Press Poetry Pamphlet Prize. Tweet @sriramsrg


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She: A poem by Revathi Raj Iyer

She

revathiRevathi Raj Iyer, author of My Friendship with Yoga released at the New Delhi World Book Fair, this year is a freelance writer, book reviewer, company director, service volunteer and yoga/fitness enthusiast. As a professionally qualified Company Secretary (India & New Zealand) with legal background, she has worked in the corporate field for over a decade. She quit a rewarding career with a multinational to become a full time mum and also pursue her twin passions, yoga and fulltime writing. Bombay is her hometown and Baroda her abode after marriage. This was followed by a long stint in Fiji Islands, where she started to learn yoga, pursued the training in New Zealand and continues her passion after moving back to India. She lives in Ahmedabad and is working on her second book that relates to fiction.


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Kamala Das – The Mother Of Modern Indian English Poetry

Kamala Das was one of the most prominent feminist voices in the postcolonial era. She wrote in her mother tongue Malayalam as well as in English. To her Malayalam readers she was Madhavi Kutty and to her English patrons she was Kamala Das. On account of her extensive contribution to the poetry in our country, she earned the label ‘The Mother of Modern Indian English Poetry’. She has also been likened to literary greats like Sylvia Plath because of the confessional style of her writing. On the occasion of her birth anniversary, we look into the remarkable life of this literary icon.

Childhood

Kamala Das was born on 31st March 1934. A part of her childhood was spent in her ancestral home in Malabar, Kerala and the other part in Calcutta where her father was posted for work. Kamala Das belonged to a family considered the literary royalty of Kerala. Her mother Balamani Amma was a famous poet and her grand uncle Nalapat Narayana Menon a respected writer. Das’ childhood as described in her autobiography was very culturally enriched. Her fascination with writing began at a young age while watching her elders immersed in their work. When she was as young as six, she started a manuscript magazine where she would write ‘sad poems about dolls who had lost their heads and had to remain headless for eternity’ while her brother would illustrate the verses. As she grew older she put together a children’s theatre with her brother, where they performed plays ranging from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables to Kalidas’ Sakuntalam. The stage was set in the patio of their ancestral home and was open for all the villagers to come see. Read more

Source: Feminism in India


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India: Assam govt to hold seminars on Rabindra Jayanti from next year

Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today described Rabindranath Tagore as a great humanist and said Tagore made indelible contribution to glorify Indian literature at the world stage.

He was speaking at a Rabindra Jayanti celebration organised by the Greater Guwahati Rabindra Jayanti Celebration Committee in association with the Directorate of Cultural Affairs.

The Assam government would hold seminars on Rabindra Jayanti across all districts in the state from next year, the chief minister said. Read more

Source: India.com


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Book Review: joining the dots by Goirick Brahmachari

By Kanwar Dinesh Singh

dots

Title: joining the dots
Author: Goirick Brahmachari
Publisher: Nivasini Publishers
Pages: 38
Price: Rs 125

 

Recipient of the Muse India-Satish Verma Young Writer Award (2016) and Srinivas Rayaprol Poetry Prize (2016), Goirick Brahmachari is worth mentioning in the new tribe of Indian poets writing in English. He brought out his maiden collection of poems, For the Love of Pork (2016), from Les Editions du Zaporogue. Rich in content and craft, this slim collection of forty-five poems in the Neo-Beat parlance was received well by the critics and lovers of poetry. These poems have propelled him as a writer having maturity and solemn engagement with current social issues and humanity at large.

Goirick Brahmachari’s second chapbook of travel notes and experimental poems, joining the dots, published by Nivasini Publishers, is a significant addition to the genre of travel writing. His poetic eye captures the mystifying curves of the ascending mountains from Bilaspur to Kullu-Manali in Himachal Pradesh during an overnight journey by bus. In a transit from the plains of Punjab and Haryana to the mountain pass of Rohtang, these short poems, one after the other, bring about a newer mis en scène of people and places. Goirick writes in a fairly anti-romantic mode, artfully confronting the idealistic and panegyric outlook of the romantics: “clouds tear the moon apart” (p. 13), “moon melts / over the snow…” (p. 17), “those fat trucks make love to the / lonesome roads” (p. 30) and so on and so forth. His diction, imagery and style mostly verge on the anti-poetic: breaking away from the normal conventions of traditional poetry, carrying deliberate solecisms and omissions of syntax, punctuation and rhyme, besides incorporating anti-sentimental feelings and reactions in poetry. Goirick’s poems are experimental, down-to-earth, hard-headed and now and then purposely pessimistic and sceptical, and they have sufficient material to incense a stern grammarian. All the same they have their own significance and appeal to the contemporary audience.

All the poems along with the title of the book are in the lowercase. Using the lowercase throughout is not altogether new, as many poets have been writing in this mode―following in the tread of the American poet, E. E. Cummings. Even though scholars find this experimentation at odds with the standard orthography of English language and/or merely as a writer’s pretension to create a trademark, many critics have viewed the rebellious use of all-lowercase as an aesthetic conception under poetic license. In the present chapbook, the use of small letters seems to be either the traveller-poet’s need for typing out the poems on a laptop without interrupting the flow of typing by searching for the ‘Shift’ on the keyboard time and again. Or implicitly it may represent the smallness of a journeyer/sojourner in the mighty expanse of the universe, as manifest in the traveller-poet’s tedium of the mountains and “inertia / of hours of travel / on parabolic roads in an ordinary bus” (p. 23).

In joining the dots, there are two sections: “dots” and “letters”. The captions assigned to “dots” are the geographical coordinates, probably to impart precise geographical identity to the places the poet traverses. In this way, the places remain well-defined in memory as well. The “letters” bear the postcodes as titles, probably with a view to recollecting the trail of travels undertaken by the poet in the past. The “dots” present not just idyllic descriptions of nature, but depicture the difficult and demanding life in the hills too:

hills can drain you

and leave you hungry

only to show up

with some ice and a big

round

white moon for free

(p. 14)

Here is a poignant exposé of the winters making human life unpleasantly cold, sluggish and unpredictable in the hills:

snow has painted everything white…

the cold has sketched wrinkles

over our weary, blue faces…

fire takes its own time to burn here

people talk in smoke

(p. 16)

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Kashmir Through Filters: A poem by Sayan Aich Bhowmik

Kashmir Through Filters

Sayan Aich BhowmikSayan Aich Bhowmik is currently serving as the Head of the Department of English at South Calcutta Girls’ College. When not under the burden of answer scripts and meeting deadlines, he can be found nurturing his love for movies, writing and poetry. A published poet, he is also the editor of the blog Plato’s Caves, a semi-academic space for discussion on life, culture and literature.

 


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With poetry and a pen name

By Kannan Sundaram

Forced to drop out of school and virtually imprisoned at home, Salma’s firebrand poetry released her into a new public life

On a summer morning in 1994, I was working in my Kalachuvadu office. The room has large windows, and from my desk I can clearly see the front gate. A large vehicle had pulled up. Several heads came into sight, mostly women with saris firmly covering their hair. They walked into the front yard in a group.

We were expecting them. I knew one of them was Salma. She was coming to visit my father, the writer Sundara Ramaswamy. My father ran an open house, so we were used to visitors, some announced but most of them unannounced, dropping in at all times of the day. Food would always be cooked in excess; there were guest rooms upstairs. A Tamil literary magazine once wrote, “Don’t waste your money booking a hotel room when you go to Nagercoil. Just go to Suraa’s home.” Read more

Source: The Hindu


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Therapy: A poem by Amrita V. Nair

Therapy

amritaAmrita V. Nair was born in Kerala, India. Her first collection of poetry, Yours Affectionately, was published in 2009 and received the Jury’s commendation at the Muse India National Literary Awards 2011. In 2013, she received the Jury’s commendation at the Poetry Society of India All India Poetry Competition and was long-listed for the Toto Funds the Arts Writing Award. Her poetry has been published in Indian Literature, Kritya and The Nervous Breakdown. She now lives in Singapore, where she works as a policy researcher.


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Five female Indian poets you’ll fall in love with

By Awanthi Vardaraj

These female Indian poets were all trailblazers; they were among the first, and it is on their shoulders that I stood when I first began writing poetry as a child.

I used to read poetry from the subcontinent as a child and marvel at the imagery it conjured up for me. As a little girl who often felt at odds with her culture and her identity, it was words that often grounded me, and those words came in the form of books and poetry. I wish I could tell you that in the field of literature women were afforded equal opportunities, but this was not the case. The women who wrote anyway did so with the full knowledge that they were the exception, not the norm. They left an indelible mark on literature in general, and Indian literature in particular.

Something that saddens me, therefore, is how rarely people seem to reminisce about female Indian poets. When I ask people what their favourite poems or verses are, nobody mentions Sarojini Naidu, Kamala Surayya, Amrita Pritam or Toru Dutt. They were all trailblazers; they were among the first, and it is on their shoulders that I stood when I first began writing poetry as a child. It is on their shoulders I stand today as a poet, a writer and an essayist. I am not ignorant of their contributions, and nor should you be. Read more

Source: Wearyourvoicemag