Women’s Day Special

Sarita Jenamani, poet, essayist, feminist and the PEN Austria general Secretary, explores poetry and women 

 

“You are a poem, though your poem’s naught.” This was said by well known American poet and critic, Ezra Pound (as quoted by H. D., End To Torment (New York, 1979), p. 12.), of a woman poet. Is it a fair statement?

On the other hand, American writer, feminist and activist, Audre Lorde said, “ For women, poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity for our existence. It forms the quality of the light within which we predicate our hopes and dreams toward survival and change, first made into language, then into idea, then into more tangible action.”

Since ages and across the cultures, women are more close to words than to silence. The medium of poetry has always played an important role in the process of communication.  Poetry written by women opens up like linen of plentitude and possibility in every cultural scenario. Women write to record their history and as part  of the common legacy of literary history. Female poetic practises forms an important part of women’s literary history.

Modern women writers reflect feminism and elaborate female identity in their works. Writers’ movements, their techniques and thematic works are necessary to understand women’s issues and feminine concepts in different situations and stages of their lives. They develop a female framework through figurative languages. Women’s poetry is all about decoding the silence, this is a search of the unspoken. Poetry has often been noted as a form of resistance and a powerful way to give voice to those who do not have it. Through the richly woven carpet of women’s poetry, ornamented by various texts and textures, women express themselves and mould their destiny. Their voices are loaded with the enormous power of language and individuality. In them exists an obsession for writing and speaking within the subversive tradition.

By Desmond Kon Zhicheng-Mingdé

Lydia Kwa Pix

 

Let’s get down to brass tacks. Why do you write?

There’s a force inside me that compels me to write. I feel unwell if I don’t write for a while. I think I write simply because it’s part of my be-ing in the world. I need to communicate. Not just with others; but essentially, I need to express and explore what I am not sure yet what I know or don’t know. I need to ask questions.

Tell us about your most recent book or writing project. What were you trying to say or achieve with it?

If you are referring to the most recently published book, then it would be sinuous, a long poem, published by Turnstone Press in October 2013. But Pulse (Ethos Books, 2014) is the most recently released edition of a novel that was first published in Canada by Key Porter Books in 2010 (just months before it shut down). So, if I may choose to focus on Pulse:

I’d grown up in Singapore and left for Canada in 1980 to begin my studies in psychology at University of Toronto. Even though I’ve spent most of the past 35 years away from Singapore, I am very much connected deeply to the country of my childhood. Pulse is a novel that explores the experience of a queer woman living in Toronto who re-visits her past and engages with the disorienting landscapes of the present. I wanted to explore the various levels of trauma—collective and personal—that mark us, and how we creatively seek to transform those wounds. The book is a work of fiction. But I have certainly borrowed from my knowledge and memories.