By Jhilmil Breckenridge 

Frazil

Title: Frazil
Author: Menka Shivdasani
Publisher: Paperwall Media
Pages: 154
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According to the dictionary, ‘frazil’ is the soft, needle-like ice on top of lakes and rivers that are too turbulent to freeze. Living in Lancashire, near the lakes, I often see this. Thanks to Menka Shivdasani’s new collection, Frazil, I now have a word for them. The poems in Frazil are a lot like the needle-like ice, glittering and beautiful on the surface but hiding angst within. Her unusual imagery allows you to see the world forever altered while her humour lurks, teasing.

Shivdasani’s wry look at women, their worth as defined by breasts and ovaries, in the poem, ‘The Whole Deal, states, “It takes much to know the burning coal / that lay inside of you / is now a charred and empty space / and the river is no longer red.” Much of this collection, spanning 37 years from 1980 to 2017, speaks of love, desire, sex, and issues that concern many women, but her keen mind also writes, with sarcasm, on religion, eating fish, bees, the ethics of killing animals for our own pleasure, and of course, as with many poets, death – there are a lot of death poems in Frazil.

‘Bees’, for instance, mulls over the beehive adjoining her own home, sharing the same wall, and ends with, “Now I carry their sweetness squeezed into a jar, / alone again, except for that one queen bee / who keeps flapping about / wondering where her home disappeared.” Poetry is often political and Menka Shivdasani’s politics is displayed clearly and openly in her work, be it talking of how a bee’s home is as important as ours, or in ‘What We Do To Our Gods’: “… we serve death on our dining tables / and the taste on our tongues is great.”

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Ramakanta Rath believes in poetry as music for survival-rising and ebbing being ineluctable part of it, says K.K.Srivastava in this review.

Frontier Lyrics CoverFrontier Lyrics
A collection of poems
Author- Ramakanta Rath
Publisher-AuthorsPress, New Delhi
Price-Rs 195/ US$ 10; Pages- 110/Published-2014

The world of poetry is a kaleidoscopic world. Visiting poets in different guises, it is full of dichotomies, pleasures and perils, love and hatred, perceivable areas of darkness and hidden areas of illumination, but always enlightening bringing to the fore the fugacious potential of  ideas and words. The onus of exploring that potential rests with the poets. While dilating his statement, “Poetry is the most highly organized form of intellectual activity” T.S. Eliot in his essay ‘The Perfect Critic’ draws a distinction between what he refers to as “appreciation” and “intellectual criticism” the two psychological faculties and their inevitable interplay with the perceptions that he feels don’t “accumulate as a mass, but form themselves as a structure and” a review “is the statement in language of his structure….”.  A poem is the most abstract art with all dramatics inside the poem represented by dynamics of symbols and metaphors. Strangeness makes the texture of life of poets forming the warp and the woof of what we call poetry. Seen in aforementioned context, a reviewer’s work, oftentimes epitomizes more doubts than what it dispels but it hardly deters him as this is precisely one of the principal objectives of a review. Reviewers transport the work of poets to the readers and in a limited way cause obscurity to melt away as history crawls along with time.