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Blending Voices

Rohini Hensman

Edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar and Savita Singh
Rajkamal Prakashan, New Delhi, 2011, pp. 160, Rs. 195.00


Seven Leaves, One Autumn: the very title is poetic, evoking the vivid shades of yellow, orange and red through which autumn leaves pass as they turn from green to brown. This collection brings together the work of seven award-winning women poets: Zohra Saed from Afghanistan, Julie Boden from Britain, Clara Janes from Spain, Kishwar Naheed from Pakistan, Ute Margaret Saine from the USA, and the two editors, Savita Singh and Sukrita Paul Kumar, both from India.   The editors explain in ‘a few words’ at the beginning that ‘Having known each other’s works and with an acute awareness of the difference in style, content and perspective, we decided we needed to be together in the same volume. What prompts us to do this? Is it the gender affinity that transcends cultural specificity? Or, is it a shared aesthetics or vision? Our poems, we thought speak to each other effortlessly and put together, they are likely to create a harmonious chorus of varied notes…while there is a “seeking” through a range of experiences presented, there is also a quiet resistance built into these voices, the resistance to any kind of dominance or exploitation. What is shared is a desire to create new meanings and fresh premises for human existence, particularly for the female gender.’   Perhaps the unifying theme is that of a primordial love, which initiates and sustains human life. As Clara Janes puts it so beautifully in ‘The Well’: ‘Love/ has many ways;/ love is a resonance/ remaining suspended/ in the air and, crossed/ by uniting harmony,/ revealing the return of all colours and shapes;/ arc of light;/ a huge wave/ expanding, gathering/ till it flows into the rhythm/ of breath/ and initiates the heartbeat…’   The compulsion to write, the art of shaping words into poetry, is a recurring theme in Ute Margaret Saine’s poems. In ‘My Home is Words’, she writes: ‘My home is made just of words/ far-flung fluttering tatters of words/ words stacked like shredded newsprint/ that shuffle and creak like cardboard… My home is made of homemade words/ that form out of homespun chores/ sail along alone sans bridge or boat/ stream from language to language’. In ‘Cutting Away Words,’ she likens her poems to sculptures: ‘I the sculptress/ cut away the words/ Not necessary/ The bulk of a body/ Unwelcome/ or disturbing.’ Others take up the theme. In ‘Tor, Tor, Tor: What use ...

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