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Glimpses of Indian Poetry

Saleem Peeradina

By Suzanne Pope Brooks
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1979, Rs. 15.00

By Mamta Kalia
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1978, Rs. 10.00

By Banumati Srinivasan
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1978, Rs. 10.00

By Shreela Ray
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1978, Rs. 15.00

By Meena Alexander
Writers Workshop, Kolkata, 1978, Rs. 10.00

VOLUME IV NUMBER 1 July/August 1979

‘Easy writing makes for damn hard reading.’  Byron   What does one do when a pile of poe­try sits on your desk claiming your attention and your opinion? When the writing is pale and still-born but the writers’ sincerity and earnestness are in ample evidence, what does one say that is criti­cally gentle (poor sensitive soul) and not destructive truth (take up something else)? While the scope of this review will not permit an exhaustive statement of criteria, I hope, as I proceed, that the norms implicit in my view will be evident to the reader. Suzanne Pope Brooks, who has a degree in English and has worked as a police officer for some years, is a resident of Pullman, Washington. The fact of her being Black figures prominently in the subjects and relationships she writes about: growing up, class conflict, religion, family life and feminism. Although the poems are single-idea poems without any claim to literary craft, they are honest and keenly experienced. Some of the more successful poems in the collection, on the subject of adoption, are based on Ms Brooks' personal life—'Barren/women take nothing for granted/make the best in others.' Moments of intimacy and lone­liness are delicately drawn, the harsh truths, as in Initiate, are squarely faced: Dimples in such a small face Seem larger. When he smiles No one notices the crooked teeth. We can't afford braces Or the truth he will meet The first time they call him Nigger.   Black writing comes across forcefully in those writers who retain their collo­quial idiom. It is a pity Ms Brooks does this in only two of the thirty-three poems in the book, one of which I quote below:  I'm free.  women got rights.  pay and schoolin'. Movin' right In where They ain't Never been.   So how come I don't feel No better Sittin' Here ironin' Your clothes?                                   Free Mix   Mamta Kalia's twenty-five poems in 19 pages have the merit of rolling off a sharp tongue even though they lack body. There are poems which are good for their outspokenness about the discontent of married life, the hypocrisy of pretence, and the futility of composing poetry: I write Because I cannot bite It's the way The weak ones fight.   For someone who started out with some promise in her first book Tribute to Papa (1970), Ms Kalia seems to have produced little that ...

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