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
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
Tukaram was born in 1608 and vanished without a trace in 1650. what little we know of his life is a reconstruction from his own autobiographical poems, the contemporary poetess Bahinabai’s memoirs in verse, and the later biographer of Marathi poet-saints, Mahipati’s account. The rest is all folklore, though it cannot be dismissed on those grounds alone. Modern scholars such as the late V. S. Bendre have made arduous efforts to collate evidence from disparate contemporary sources to establish a well-researched biography of Tukaram. But even this is largely conjectural.
Tukaram is therefore not only the last great Bhakti poet in Marathi but he is also the first truly modern Marathi poet in terms of temper and thematic choice, technique and vision. He is certainly the most vital link between medieval and modern Marathi poetry. Tukaram’s stature in Marathi literature is comparable to that of Shakespeare in English or Goethe in German. He could be called the quintessential Marathi poet reflecting the genius of the language as well as its characteristic literary culture. There is no other Marathi writer who has so deeply and widely influenced Marathi literary culture since. Tukaram’s poetry has shaped the Marathi language, as it is spoken by 70 million people today and not just the literary language. Perhaps one should compare his influence with that of the King James version of the Bible upon speakers of the English language. For Tukaram’s poetry is also used by illiterate millions to voice their prayers or to express their love of God.
It is our loss that we did not know Ajithan Kurup’s work when he was alive, and we did not celebrate his brave and lonely project: to render the unsayable into language. He cannot be imitated or replaced, only admired.- Jeet Thayil
To enter Ajithan G. Kurup’s poetic world is to risk, in the words of his title poem, dancing “headlong down precipices.” It’s rare to find a contemporary poet who dares near-unattainable heights and fearful depths on dancing words – words that may sometimes seem far-fetched or invented but which, in fact, are inspired variants or archaic forms of those more usually used: “sempstress” instead of “seamstress”, “enow” instead of “enough”, “trode” instead of “trod”.-ADIL JUSSAWALLA