Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Poetry International Web's Poem of the week. This week of March 15 the "India domain" presents poetry in Hindi, Malayam and English from four diverse poets whose work shares the focal points of community, family and daily domestic life.... 

Hindi poet Prabhat for instance writes of a deceased aunt at the end of 'A Happiness There Was': "The old aunt is still very much in our lives / just as absurd, just as naive, just as rustic / but not visible anywhere any longer / Like a tree fallen by the ridge of a field" ... in a surprising ending that redirects the hitherto descriptive poem Marilyn Noronha also likens an uprooted tree to one of her aunts. Tree imagery continues in featured poet Anitha Thampi's 'Fruit, As It Is', a subtle and complex feminist subversion of traditional poetic associations of ripe fruit with female fecundity. 

National poet of Wales Gillian Clarke, featured on the PIW UK domain, also recognises the importance of the domestic landscape, and it sensory details, as a locus for memory, love and loss, as well as a departure point for considering the larger world.... Scottish poet John Glenday's 'What My Mother Called Me' also takes domestic space as the memory-site for the invocation of the narrator's mother, in this case an apparition "settling from the air."  Yet it is the landscape of language, rather than of domestic objects, that is ultimately the site of memory and interaction .... The final poet of this issue, Philip Gross, delights in exploration of the linguistic landscape too, evident in'The Boat Made of Poems' – "its timbers creak / in the language of every port it has put into – / the backchat, the patois, / the babble, the Babel, the smuggled rich lingo / of each dockside bar". 

She who paints
draws jackfruits
on the branches of the jackfruit tree
and on the roots
just as they are,
not fashioned as breasts on the female trunk

Not as split body parts
as openings and wounds
as if two minutes ago
Mother had
cut it in two with a knife
and laid it on the bare floor

Its skin, innards,
flesh, seeds,
the slippery seed-husks
none of them drawn separately

The body fully built in thorns
the burden a woman straightening herself bears.

The sticky stain
that refuses to be erased –
the seed that falls at the foot of the jackfruit tree
that rots and sprouts –
the smell that spreads all around –

Women who do not paint –
women with babies growing inside their bellies –
when they look,
they see fruits
for real,
stuck to the jackfruit tree trunk.
© Translation: 2010, C.S. Venkiteswaran

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