Nabanita Kanungo’s collection is simultaneously an elegy and a victory song. A documentation of the heartbreaks that have plagued our subcontinent for the past century or so, her poems re-define the lyric form, chronicling the unfolding of a personal self framed by larger political events. Here, history appears as a long, continuous saga of violence, in which Partition memories remain juxtaposed within the everyday lived realities and violences of neoliberal Indian cities. With this collection, Kanungo provides a ghostly account of quotidian survival?stories that remain forever out of official histories?and re-defines the meaning of Anglophone India political poetry of contemporary times.Nabanita Kanungo’s poems ache with an awareness of how poetry cannot truly evoke anything but absence, of how ‘It rains and words say nothing’; ‘Only memory is green’. In this tragedy, Kanungo finds the only solace available to the poet: a luminous quality in the every day, the ‘Mirror where things are simply written with light’. These poems work in the liminal spaces of the world and of the self, between the present moment and its turning into memory, between words and rain.
Menka Shivdasani’s poetry is both original and strikingly unusual, not just her tangential way of putting things across, but also how thought process and imagination run away with the poem, and make it exciting. An experience is translated into another experience and then gets mixed with fancy in a juice blender. Chopping lettuce, she’ll be assailed by visions—burning bride, politician, a ‘wounded Hiroshima’, and finally a finger-chopping Nazi. A poem about separation will end with her handling ‘alien porcelain’ at a tea party. For over three decades the excitement she brings to her fine poetry has never deserted her.
Ravi Shankar’s poems are immortal in the flesh, finding in The life of the mind its interpretations, its instrumentality. The surpassing, transient, lyrical moment; and in the life of the World’s body the permanent, unflinching presence of thought, Unconfined by time and space. They are the verbal artifacts of a Singular, many-sided, and distinguished consciousness.Pulitzer Prize winner Vijay Seshadri Engorged with image, thick, viscous and churning, Ravi Shankar’s Poems have the density of mercury as well as its fluidity and Mobility…The energy is visceral. The language is restless, hungry For surprise, the register swinging between the formal and the Demotic (both American and Indian). Underlying this is an Almost voluptuous need to embrace myth, history, metaphysics And pop culture, and bring all of it into a single book, and Sometimes a single poem. This is matched by an alertness to form with references ranging from the Bop to the pada — making for A playful, stylistically supple poetry. – Arundhathi Subramaniam Ravi Shankar’s poems have a fine-tuned sense of form, a rare Delight in language. Through wit and abstraction, they reveal a Metaphysics of longing, binding us to the elements of our moving World. – Meena Alexander
Ravi Shankar is truly, now, one of America’s finest younger poets.-Dick Allen