“How we Measured Time by Sivakami Velliangiri, gives us poetry of a childhood remembered, perhaps now and then fictionalised –memory is such a dicey thing. The poetry is rooted in nostalgia, memories rooted in the house and the mill compound she grew up in, and yet there is no sentimentality attached to it. There are moments when the poetry is uplifting, her mother identifying ‘serpents/ by the design of their costume’, a grandfather lifting her ‘to the coastline of his shoulders’. And a past advances towards the reader, the silence before a solar eclipse, the hubbub of a Kerala elephant-chase.’
Dion D’Souza’s Three Doors measures the metropolis through the interplay of precise details and sweeping panoramas, within which the poet-persona appears as a war correspondent reporting not from battlefields or barricades but from the commuter train, the flyover, the domestic interior. D’Souza’s empathetic eye settles on mottled stray dogs and kittens, beggars and maids, exhausted teachers and anxious students, on newly painted walls and doors that lead into parallel realities. To the beat of the slow train lurching across the tracks, D’Souza tweaks common-sense platitudes into ironic prayers: ‘Work is worship, ‘the commute is workshop. Make your peace: ‘Pick up your pieces.’ The irony is an antidote to the fragmentation that metropolitan experience can impose; the prayer is a wager on transcendence. The quotidian gives way to the epiphanic in these poems, as when the municipal pest-control agent, a familiar sight in mosquito-ridden Bombay, is transformed before our eyes into a figure of augury and portent, the priest of a mysterious cult, a Pied Piper ?moving as if through a monotonous dream, fumigating equipment in hand, the smoke/ rising heavenward behind him?. Three Doors announces a poet who is not afraid to commit himself to acts of intense testimony focused on all that is ‘shipwrecked on the shores of our everyday lives’; a poet whose ambition is to refine his sonar techniques, to be ‘bat-like’ … guided by the echoes’. – Ranjit Hoskote
Potkar speaks with the cutting clarity of a woman wholly engaged with the world. She writes from the gilded moment vulnerability becomes knowledge, and then when knowledge becomes wisdom. The result, in all cases, is the poem: clever and crafted to a kind of broken perfection’ the cracks show, but the shattered places are dusted with powdered gold. ‘If a day is a life, a word is a story,’ Potkar writes. Her poetry condenses life into a gilded day, a story into a single word, as only a masterful poet can do it, or a woman can feel it. Mookie Katigbak-Lacuesta
“Perhaps most abundant of all in a book of such magnitude are poems that invoke the people, places and things that have forged the poet’s sensibility and sculpted her faith in the beauty and power of language;poems expressed at times with brilliant?
After reading the book, one is left with a haunting feeling of something that cannot be revived but lived only through the traces that it leaves in the mind. The poet dives deep into the labyrinths of time to fish out moments that are close to her.
Details that would otherwise be overlooked take on a life of their own and narrate their stories for those who are willing to listen. Medha Singh’s poems demand the reader to not be a mute spectator but feel these snippets of memories as much as they yearn to share. Powerful imagery and the attempt to capture them through words has been done beautifully. – Semeen Ali
For Medha Singh, the poem is often a subterfuge for story; the desire to be a poet is a circularity of purpose; and poetry itself is the beginning and end of trust. Prickling in all directions, uneven, at times unsteady, she chases “itinerant darkness”, achieves rare moments of equanimity, even grace. Mundane reality is a fitting anti-climax, closure an escape.
Ajit Abhang is a promising young voice writing in Marathi. His poems are strong and hard-hitting and true to his circumstances; with no pretences. This is his first book of poems published by PoetryPrimero.