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.
Adrian Grima in collaboration with his talented and unusually resourceful translator, Albert Gatt – has produced a rich and memorable compilation of poems. Their geographical and emotional stew is international in its flavours yet always Maltese in its complex marinations. Grima succeeds in being – and these are potent combinations – both lyrical and true-to-life, both tender and unblinking, both comforting and challenging. His collection is a thought-provoking joy.- Jim Crace
How can the soul survive the world’s brutality. This is the essential, unanswerable question that Adrian Grima asks in and through his poems, beautifully translated from the Maltese by Albert Gatt. Taut with unexpected collusions, the poems walk the tightrope tensions of time and space. Turmoil, both emotional and political, is contained within the ascetic rigour of the lines; the mysteries of the distant are brought closer through eyes and lips, taste and touch. In Grima’s world, a lull can be as keen as a knife, blood can be the ultimate betrayal. An arterial anxiety courses through his work. Between “thistle and sun”, between skin and skin, between “departure and return”, the poet repeatedly alerts us to the heart-breaking fragility of the body, besieged. Coexistent with his bruising awareness of damage is his faith in contact, in simple human pleasures, a conversation, a pot of flowers, a meal. Deeply intelligent and moving, here is a book with “sky in its wings, migration in its heart”. Read it, be shattered, then soar.- Sampurna Chattarji
Flesh Tint Like a painting by Velazquez A woman stands Alone in the frame Touched by the brush of light Blossoming. How did Flesh Tint reflect Naples Yellow In this greenish blue room? What made the sun Suddenly rise on the palette?
Hardback awakening The air is thick, and has revived my books, anticipating the first spell of a Bombay monsoon. Ambient moisture has slaked pages that shuffle and twist, arise to a wakefulness, unleaving. Feeling the discomfort of nearness,
There is an intense humanity in these poems by Rati Saxena, a humanity that ennobles all of us who are humble enough to listen. There is an empathy is these poems for all living things – for the spider, for the ant, for the owl – and a similar understanding of all things that may not be alive. -Alan Titley, Professor Emeritus of Modern Irish, University College, Cork It has travelled a long, long way this voice?and we welcome it as we would do a stranger, into the West where despair, decline and decay are seemingly permanent lodgers, Saxena’s lyrics arrive like a fresh breeze. New-born, fresh and smelling of the earth, her poems draw on the well of Indo-European tradition, the intimate links that bind the female psyche and the landscape in all its fecundity. -Dr Michel h’Aodha, University of Limerick Saxena allows for different aeons to melt into each other. She creates a world in which humans interact with insects and animals. We are all of and from the same source. The image of the snake is a powerful one to explain the frustrations of modern women in today’s India. Her vision makes a mockery of the boundaries around our lives and we sail with her through a magical world, coming into contact with the source of life itself. There are echoes of Flann O’ Brien in the delightful poem about the bicycle of her youth. Taboos and rituals will not enslave her and poetry finds its way into the washing on the line and the fire that bakes our daily bread. – Ceaiti Ni Bheildiuin, poet In this selection of the poems of Rati Saxena we are drawn into a world of imagery where deep respect is shown for the low -Brian O Conchubhair, University of Notre Dame, USA
Das’ poetry more than delivers on the promise made in the penultimate lines of her titular Cyborg Proverbs, offering its reader the gift of penetrating (in)sight through thoughts “as precise as suspicion”. Her syllables breathe aloud, like hushes that unassumingly gasp in the gaps between echoes, in the interstitial moments of alighting bird wings, or roots that braid the air, or the slipperiness of netted fish, and the gush of rain as it nestles its way into the crevices of walls and swells its way through its parasitical, residential act.
Das exquisitely reimagines syntax and her frequently anthropomorphic poems shape-shift upon each ensuing page, making Cyborg Proverbs an enviable feat, aided in no small measure by her studied, patient, bird-watcher gaze and her unspeakable lust for articulating the tacitly sensual.