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Book Review: In the Garden of My Freedom by Rukmini Dey

By Lakshmi Menon

freedomContrary to popular belief, there is no singular language of poetry. Every writer is unique in the way that they bring words together to create feeling and emotion, and every poem is a reflection of the world that they inhabit. A book of poems, then, is often an exercise in world building at the end of which the reader is left with a new vision with which to see what is around them, the vision that the poet lent them through their verse.

Rukmini Dey’s In the Garden of My Freedom, from Writers Workshop, is a collection of poetry on subjects ranging from the spiritual to the mathematic, the latter being somewhat appropriate given that Dey is a professor of the subject, but more so as the poems in the collection combine to give us a very real, almost tangible look into Dey’s world.

The very first poem, “The Bird Watcher”, introduces the reader to the simplicity of her verse where a young boy prowls after birds in a jungle as his mother watches,

“Seeing him, a bird alighted

On my heart.”

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Book Review: The Remnant Glow by Meera Chakravorty and Elsa Maria Lindqvist

By Nilesh Mondal

remnant-glowIt isn’t rare for a poetry book to plunge its readers into uncertainty regarding how to perceive it. The Remnant Glow does the same, at times feeling like intriguing monologues between two strangers who’ve met at a convention or on a flight to the said convention, and then switching into an interesting back-and-forth banter between two friends who have known each other all their lives. These two voices, sturdy but distinctive, bring a much-needed balance to the book, and can be considered probably the greatest triumph of this beautiful collection.

The Remnant Glow is published by Writers Workshop, and in all respects, bears the trademark exquisiteness that comes with every WW publication. Gold embossed, hand stitched, hand-bound with handloom sari cloth, this book is a joy to possess, if only for its sheer aesthetics. The book is divided into two parts, one for each poet, with each section containing 20 poems.

The first part, which contains poems by Meera Chakravorty, manages to successfully set the tone for the collection, as well as give us a detailed insight into the poet’s perception of the city around her. The poems deal with a myriad variety of themes, but the unifying trait they all possess is the intense voice of the poet, which doesn’t falter at any point. An example of her unwavering narration is found in the poem “In Harmony”, which talks about the time when at a children’s play, the actress playing Sita decided to willingly accompany Ravana, much to the amusement of the audience. Another poem, and one of my personal favourites, is about a coconut tree which was struck by lightning and in the process, saved the poet from being the victim instead.
“That day I felt the agony of living at the cost of someone,
whose roots and tendrils I will never see again.
The tree stands still in our garden, but not solitary
totally un-green but straight
without any vile shadows ever and yet; we address ‘his’ species in neuter gender.”
Although a couple of her poems teeters on the brink of becoming pedantic, the majority of her work features minute observations, a strong sense of nostalgia, and multiple mentions of those who have influenced her, from Chinua Achebe to Sherlock Holmes.

After a strong first act, I wondered if the second act would be able to weigh up to the expectations I had subconsciously let flock into my mind. Would the transition be smooth, or would the two parts have too much distance between themselves?

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