Category Archives: book reviews

Baby Makers by Gita Aravamudan

baby makersPaperback: 200 pages

Publisher: HarperCollins India (July 15, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 9351362930

ISBN-13: 978-9351362937

 

Review by Ananya S Guha

 

The Book ” Baby Makers ” is a conscience stricken book which talks about surrogacy in entirety, including ethical issues. The book anatomizes surrogacy laws in different countries, in Asia, USA and UK. It speaks of commercial surrogacy and highlights aspects such as ‘ surrogacy tourism ‘ which is a booming and lucrative industry in India. The book unleashes a narrative power to tell stories of individuals who come to India from the USA, Japan and Germany in search of surrogate ‘ mothers ‘, couples who do not have children but are desperately seeking joys of motherhood, or fatherhood. This is the inner pathos of this explosive book.

Elsewhere in India couples go to different locations such as Bangalore in search of ‘‘baby makers”. But who are they. In India they are the down trodden who just need to improve their pecuniary conditions and have a decent living. This is the tragedy, but it is also the reality- a vicious cycle engendered by poverty, and family encumbrances. But who are the ‘ money makers ‘? Are they not the doctors and the posh hospitals? Indian laws allow commercial surrogacy, but are ambivalent regarding laws about the children, which country they belong to, their passport and visas etc, making the whole issue complex and ambiguous. More often than not foreigners who come to India chasing dreams are not aware of all the laws. All they know is that commercial surrogacy in India is relatively cheap as compared to that in the US. However in countries such as the UK commercial surrogacy is not permitted.

The ethical issue that the book raises is: who is the mother- the surrogate or the intending? Cannot the surrogate mother also experience the delight of motherhood? Does she not have a right to it? Examples are cited as to how hollow a surrogate mother can feel, once she hands over the child to the intending mother. Ethical issues are associated with medical questions. The sperm is the man’s, but the eggs or the womb is that of another woman. Who is the ‘ mother ‘?

This further complicates ethical issues. Social and economic conditions in India compel people like Bina to go to Mumbai in search of better jobs and surrogacy! Bina after earning some lakhs is able to buy a tiny flat in Mumbai, irrespective of the fact that her husband simply sits idle.

The book covers all the technicalities of surrogacy, fertility, insemination and subsequent delivery of the child. It covers issues such as the immediate need for breast feeding. For a couple from Chennai who live in London, the disapproval of their parents/ in laws become insufferable. Out of sheer desperation they go to surrogacy and get twins. Finally of course they spill the beans.

In The US in the nineteen eighties a mother who took the help of a surrogate mother, suddenly did a volte- face, questioning the right to motherhood, making it a national issue and ruckus.

The underlying pathos of this very well written book is ‘ why ‘, why do people come to surrogacy, whether the facilitating mother, or the intended mother? The former does it for pecuniary reasons, the latter because she wants to be a mother. It is an issue involving women. As usual women have to bear the brunt of suffering. This is the larger irony or tragedy that the book charts out.

Cathy and her husband come to India from the USA in search of a surrogate mother. In the US it is too expensive, they are middle class. They overcome ‘ culture shock ‘ and live in Hyderabad for a considerable period of time. But Cathy is always admonished by fear- what if?

Gita Aravamudan, the noted journalist, asks many questions- those related to surrogacy laws, those related to medical laws, the ethical issue (who is the mother?) and those related to sheer monetary exploitation by doctors. It is a book full of pathos and if I may call it- ‘ tragedy ‘. The tragedy lies in a poverty stricken India, it lies in the presence of unscrupulous middle men and women.

This is India. This is a must read book.

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Baby-Makers-Gita-Aravamudan/dp/9351362930

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ananya- Ananya S Guha works at Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) as a Senior Academic. His poems in English have been published in International / National Journals and e zines. He also writes for newspapers, does book reviews and writes on matters related to education. His recent works appeared in the Harper Collins Book of English Poetry edited by Sudeep Sen. He also writes book reviews, articles for newspapers and articles on education, distance education and vocational education.

 

Pomegranate, Sister of the Heart by Carlos Reyes

pom

 

Paperback: 76 pages

Publisher: Lost Horse Press; 1 edition (March 23, 2012)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0983997527

ISBN-13: 978-0983997528

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Review by g emil reutter

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 Fifthlogic
                           Air
is the key to water
.
Wind is the voice
           of the earth
.
                   Pomegranate
is the sister of the heart
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In this collection of poems, Carlos Reyes writes of a garden, a shack in a field, of viewing the northern lights and of Knowing:
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1.
We know
that the Pacific lies
some seventy-five miles away
.
where the sun beds down,
so we can quit the fields, eat supper
go to sleep long before
we want to
.
We know sunset—especially
those red, smoke filled
summer sunsets—
.
Metaphor for the end
of our world
.
As children we fall
into its nightmares, burn
in its flames
.
We beg another chance
and once again become godly
then stir again
.
Reyes is a master at imagery and metaphor. His poems are carefully crafted such as The Clear Cut:
.
Like the mound of Venus
                                shaved
                      for childbirth
.
                                    only this time
there will be a genesis of mutants
                               millions of young
.
         whose future we can foretell:
                      how long they will live
       and the exact day they will die
 .
He writes of poverty, of the violence of war, of the sea and of darkness. An excerpt from Confronting Darkness:
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The sun had hours
since buried itself
.
What I confronted
was the darkness,
.
afraid as
the blackness began
.
to take me, cover me,
a damp blanket—scarce
.
comfort—from the north
west wind, the wood
.
pile shrinking in the shadows
by the door
.
In poem after poem, Reyes stimulates the reader with images and metaphor presented in crafted poems that appear simple on the page, yet bring us into the world of those unnoticed yet regarded highly by this thoughtful poet. Reyes has paid careful attention to the world he came from and the world he lives in. He is real and surreal, his poems beat with the pulse of his heart.
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You can read the poetry of Carlos Reyes in The Fox Chase Review at this link: http://www.foxchasereview.org/11June/CarlosReyes.html

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15648469158_fde0487b43_o-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/about/

Lucky Bones by Peter Meinke

lucky bonesSeries: Pitt Poetry Series Paperback: 96 pages

Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (August 6, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0822963108

ISBN-13: 978-0822963103

Review by Dennis Daly

Passion trumps this frivolous world of detail—Belgian chocolates, Coppertone lotion, dry martinis, bright ribbons, doubles tennis, and, heaven help us, sonnets. Peter Meinke in his new collection of poems, Lucky Bones, quantifies the passionate nature of interior intensity and hell-bent fervor by poking fun at himself and humorously (or not) eviscerating a chosen set of targets inhabiting this vale of tears that we call life. Many of his poetic commentaries Meinke delivers in formalist verse with a cunning dry wit that both elucidates and cautions.
 
The poet begins ominously with his first sectional poem entitled Drive-By Shootings. Here he sets up his backdrop and shades it with bitters. Meinke says,
 
        …People pedal on bikes drop
  Some money in the hole stick in their arms get a shot and wobble away
     Sometimes getting hit by cars the same needle all afternoon
             That’s the kind of world we live in
 
Civilization masks bloody-mindedness and boiling lust. Meinke’s piece Cassandra in the Library alludes to ancient Troy while the poet simultaneously conjures up modern academia and contemporary office life. Here’s the unpleasant heart of the poem,
 
            Poetry no wisdom withstands the test
               of blood: when mind and body clash
         the mind’s the one whose opposition’s rash
 
                        Killing liquid work’s dust
         Our craving for passion quenched by a crimson lust
 
           What can an office offer but a cursed
                 routine an inane trivial bore?
           A water cooler doesn’t slake the thirst
              of blood that rages for a taste of war
       a horde of disappointed men have dreams
    fired by bursting flares and female screams
 
The rhymes lighten the content thereby creating an odd but interesting counterpoint. I very much like this poem.
 
Skewing the Roman Catholic papacy can get old quickly and is not my cup of tea. However when a bit of compressed wit like the poem Habemus Papum nudges me I can’t resist. Habemus Papum, as announced by a cardinal from St. Peter’s Basilica after a papal election concludes, means “we have a pope.” Meinke appears to have tired of Vatican officialdom and its moribund language. He celebrates/laments in this part of the piece,
 
                        O goodum! Habemus papum
                             who’ll soon intone
                               the usual crapum
 
                        and the poor poor will weepum
 
Athletes and poets have a lot in common up to and including their need to be loved and appreciated in their own time. Unfortunately, the gods of sport and art operate on a different timeframe. In Meinke’s title poem, Lucky Bones, a tennis player of 78 years makes a great shot during a doubles game. He looks to his wife for approval as he had done as a younger man. But time has passed. Meinke concludes with pathos,
 
…his wife
 
who used to toss car keys
that flashed through light
 
like lucky bones crying Hey
         big fella think fast!
 
 And he thinks That’s
just past in my head
 
     like a re-eyed crow 
and he’s thinking Christ he
 
could still catch them if she
   were still there to throw
 
Armed with talent enough to cause the doubling up in laughter of bards and bad reviewers everywhere, Meinke takes on the sonnet in his piece Front-Rhymed Easter Anti-Sonnet. His faux attack doesn’t miss a beat. Bucking revered tradition he even removes the end rhyme scheme and transplants it at the line beginnings. The untraditional cur! Consider these pretty funny lines,
 
    … Bad enough you have to use
  words without sinking the buggers in fourteen
  lines O Shakespeare Milton what made you
  choose the? O Formalist can’t you read the
signs? O Meinke why are you writing another?
            Who’s sick of sonnets?  Iamb  Iamb 
 
For Emily Dickinson it’s all about repressed sex and mannered poetry in Meinke’s excellent parody of that poet entitled Emily Dickinson Thinks about Buying a Ribbon. There’s something about Dickinson that invites quality parody. I’m thinking of X.J. Kennedy’s Emily Dickinson in Southern California. In Meinke’s poem Dickinson debates the color of her prospective ribbon almost to the point of indecency which, of course, is the point in this astonishingly deep piece,
 
I would like to get red—
Vermillion
       But father would disapprove
 
  A serious Blue—then—worn loose
  Like a Lover’s knot
        A decent one could strangle
 
  With it—I’d have wine
       Not the barrell’d rum of Father’s
  Then—let him come—
 
Meinke takes great pleasure in self-deprecation. He gets away with it because he is that good. His poem On Completing My PHD reads like an ongoing gag, but carries with in some quite serious undertones and unasked questions. The poet concludes by rattling off his educational symptoms,
 
And I who’ve developed
  a twitch a tic a cough
 can’t tell if I am finished
    or only finished off
 
    I learned Byron had a clubfoot
      Nietzsche’s health was drastic
         Poe was a dipsomaniac
        And I’m already spastic
 
 I learned that Shakespeare really lived
        so scholars have decided
   Though quite a few have studied me
       they’re not as sure that I did
 
The poet again summons up academia in a villanelle entitled The Old Professor. Keeping their eyes on Professor Warren’s nicotine-stained teeth as he enlightens his students on New England’s luminaries can prove a didactically sound methodology. Meinke explains,
 
                                                            … Transfixed we
                        watched you grind your nubby teeth to stumps
 
                         waiting for you to spur us through our jumps
                               from Cotton Mather up through Emily
                                    Is every pilgrim happy on the bus?
 
                            We never were sure when you were serious
                                chaining your Camels unpuritanically
                        grinding your browning teeth to nubby stumps
 
                           and tossing questions far from the syllabus:
                            Would you rather live on Broad or Beacon Street?
                                    Are Smith and Bradford riding the same bus?
 
Peter Menke has been writing good, sometimes great poems for a long time. Whatever he has for breakfast I want to try. This poet’s in top form.
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Dennis Daly-Dennis Daly has been published in numerous poetry journals and magazines and recently nominated for a Pushcart prize.  Ibbetson Street Press published The Custom House, his first full length book of poetry in June, 2012. His second book, a verse translation of Sophocles’ Ajax, was published by Wilderness House Press in August, 2012. His third book of poems entitles Night Walking with Nathaniel was recently released by Dos Madres Press. A fourth book is nearing completion. http://dennisfdaly.blogspot.com/

Golden Cacti by Sunil Sharma

 
1 (1)Paperback: 90 pages
Publisher: Authors Press (January 4, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 9381030235
ISBN-13: 978-9381030233
 
Reviewed by P C K PREM
 
 
In Golden Cacti, a collection of beautiful verses, Sunil Sharma opens up heart of urban life, its dry joys and its continuous struggles for survival, difficulties and sufferings, dreariness and consequent agonies that linger on even when a man stops looking at life as it was. Vivid images, natural metaphors and striking portrayal of feelings and thoughts inspire, excite and question the man trying to find meaning in disturbed times.  Poet in Sunil strikes an optimistic note and finds every moment and every creation superb, a gift of god. Surprisingly, he goes back to past to find roots and looks out for a man of his roots and origin.
He is critical of alien’s domination and language, and does not want that anything should change to please a usurper, a ruler of unethical outlook. When the poet goes to a few lands across the globe, nostalgic memories of colonial life ancestors lived disturb him.  It was not a single impact on the life of natives but it encompassed the country’s culture and heritage and made visible dents. A tenderhearted poet feels emotively about the days, and experiences agonies as a man of history. None can ever stop a man from going to his roots and land. Again, in ‘Let Us Recall’ 26, the poet goes to past to ‘revive lapsed days and lost glories’. Nature of man to find comforts in seemingly happy past is a habit as anxieties and pains of present choke him.
             A Marxist thought emerges in ‘Lunch’ 15, when he talks of a poor hard working stonebreaker, who just manages to fill her belly and keeps a dry chapatti with pickle for her frail husband. He paints a pathetic picture of workers, who live in miseries while the rich always crave for variety in food every time.  Ironical urban sensibility loves to lament on the plight of the poor and miserable but does nothing worthwhile and definite, for it is living in obesity and opulence. Instantly, the poet creates a sad, melancholic and cheerless picture in ‘Urban Existence’ 17, where pigeons perch still on a wire, unhappily reflect on the mental condition of a lonely housewife it appears. Yes, loneliness corrodes finer instincts of urbanites despite glamour and riches. 
                                                   
Inner unexpressed anguish is equally disturbing in ‘The Three Urban Scenes’ 46, where the poet speaks with a restrained voice about a tiny bulbul on a power pole, a vagabond with a plastic bag containing dirty rags and an old man waiting for a warm call from a son living in a distant land. The three living beings have particular areas of pain, hope and hope amidst possible disappointment.
On the other hand, feelings of a displaced person earning livelihood or trying to settle down elsewhere invite compassion, for he lives like a timid pigeon in urban setting. It is painful when one does not live in usual locale. (Migrant Woes 27)  Poet speaks of a truth everyone would accept without apparent nod. A man may live a happy and rich life elsewhere, but at moments of anguish born of nostalgia, he goes back to feel the smell of his land and home where ancestors lived.
            The poet looks into the nature of animate and inanimate, and frames images to define life’s issues. If ‘The strange Walls’ refuse feelings of communion and humanity, ‘Under the Cherry Tree’ and ‘Beauty’ speak of a rich and blessed life. If in ‘Poet Rejected’ and ‘Redundancies’ he talks of the poet, poetry and inherent pangs, in ‘Poetry Calling’ 37, the poet underscores what poetry does for man and humanity.
 
Poets
Should become
Heralds of harmony and solidarity,
Resisting forces of hate
And mongers of war
Through a
Kinetic art
           
Poetry brings only peace, compassion, harmony and happiness to humankind. In a similar way, through ‘The Flower Sermon’ 41, the poet conveys another positive message and tells that ‘Each one of us, /If we try, /Can become a Buddha,’ and live at peace. Poet is tender and soft at heart and speaks eloquently about the wretched and contemptible condition of man. Life in urban areas despite seeming joys and comforts does not offer an encouraging testimony of happiness because a man suffocates and aspires for clean air and open space for stretching arms and legs.
In manmade sky-touching structures, if he brags of attainments, he also feels restricted, and so inhales polluted air and survives smilingly, and hopes for a free life where even relations feel the pressure of loneliness in awful living conditions. Neither a man in a towering building living in a specified area of an apartment is happy within, nor does he enjoy life in a slum because certain scarcities in life give constant troubles. Such thoughts form the outline of many lyrics.  Amidst, inner turmoil and outer glitter, a man aspires for happiness and peace.
                                       
            Wide spread violence tortures. The poet appears quite upset. Acts of man endanger humanity notwithstanding his determined struggle for bringing peace and harmony. He looks around and feels tormented within as terrorism and mindless killing of innocent people all over the world destabilize everyone. Racial and ethnic hate disturb noble creations on earth. Distortion and unjust ways in societies do not provide comforts to man. It is not only hatred and terror-filled inclinations of man that bring disharmony in life of a man, but social evils also bring anguish and disturbance.
Man ought to work for peace of man and society, and if he does not, he brings acrimony, violence and war. He rightly observes –
 
Let us unite, then
And make it
The latest credo
for the new century
of hope and belief
And trash the forces
Of scepticism,
Cynicism
And disbelief
Via this simple anthem
Of love and faith.’
(For Peace, Let Us All Stand 70).
 
He repeats intensity of anxiety for peace in another powerful poem ‘Let Peace Prevail –Lines from a Graffiti Artist’s Work on the Wall’ 71. He looks like a high priest of peace, who oversees violence everywhere in the world and asks man to live in peace, not a very tall demand. Sunil loves to reflect on private matters and in the process, he adds authenticity to the verse and indirectly, establishes poetic relationship with the reader. In personal poems, he speaks for many. A woman plays many roles in life, and with a few exceptions, she carries the family and societal obligation in a dignified manner as a daughter, sister, wife and mother. After marriage, she looks after two families with entirely different setups and habits. However, the change is wonderful. After she comes back from maternal home, she -
 
Instantly morphed into a homemaker, a teacher
Journalist, mom and wife.
The different personas …
(Transformations 74)
           
One finds the poet at ease and quite comfortable, for truth moves the pen so effortlessly. Again, the poet’s emotionality becomes obvious in ‘A Grass Widower/Lover Writes’ where he talks of momentary separation, starlit nights, bangles, silver anklets, lingering laughter, and scented presence in summer nights, perfume, smiles sweet and angelic, and fragrant Raatrani flowers when he thinks  lovingly of his wife Sangeeta. He is passionately true when he says -
 
 You are,
Therefore,
The smiling Muse
To my poet within,
Dearest Sangeeta,
And
The best-ever Valentine.
And this –
 An ode dictated by Cupid,
On this sleepless night.’
            (Ibid. 90)
 
Sure, a reader ought to value a husband’s sentimental love for a wife.
At another level, the poet sensitively talks of an Indian, a victim of apartheid and opens a poignant page from the history of South Africa. He reveals many truths and facts in simple words -
 
When the prison officers become prisoners
And the political prisoners
Are treated as new leaders,
And
A just society
Finally
Comes out fine.
 (Tempering of the Steel 82)
           
His lyrics are engaging. He is a passionate advocate of peace and harmony. Human relationships form the basis of his philosophy. Man lives in illusions and rarely admits, for a subtle fantasy determines the march of man the poet asserts. Urban living fires ambitions but the efforts remain incommensurate and therefore, consequent failures paint a dismal picture. Urban in theme, the poetry attracts and disturbs. At times, he relates experiences to history and co-relates everything to personal life. He is best when he speaks about the truth of experiences. He does not permit experience to distort truth or at times, he cannot visualize a situation where truth appears fragmentary but then, he is forced to live within the parameters of language to give shape and structure to truth, experiences and facts but he does it with conviction.   He is authentic, compelling and forceful and never for a moment forgets that he has an objective to attain as a poet of man and humanity. 
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pckpremA trilingual author of more than forty books in English and Hindi, P C K Prem (p c katoch)   post-graduated in English literature from Punjab University, Chandigarh in 1970, taught English in various colleges of Punjab and Himachal before shifting to civil services and then, served as Member, HP Public Service Commission. He has brought out nine volumes of poetry besides books on criticism in Hindi and English.  Katoch Prem (a winner of several awards) is a poet, novelist, short story writer and critic in English from Himachal Pradesh.

The Woman on the Bridge over the Chicago River by Allen Grossman

theWomanOntheBridgeOverTheChicagoRiverByAllenGrossmanHardcover: 90 pages

Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; First Edition edition (June 1979)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0811207145

ISBN-13: 978-0811207140

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Reviewed by Stephen Page

When I picked up Allen Grossman’s The Woman on the Bridge over the Chicago River and began to read, I felt like Grossman had turned out the lights and I was going through a series of dreams and nightmares.  I tried several times to come out of the dream-nightmare-state but the poetry was too riveting, too compelling, even when the scenes became dark—so I remained lucid with them until culmination.  I was happy I did.  It’s a superb book even if a demanding read.  Grossman’s philosophy of poetry seems different from anyone I have ever read.  The narrative thread is not easy to follow, like your own dreams or nightmares where scenes change rapidly without reason.  Not that this disqualifies the poetry from accessibility, for it doesn’t.  The poems are works of a genius yet generous mind.  The reader just has to put him or herself in a different reality—one where details move emotion and the whole is synthesized only through contemplation, like the process of interpreting a dream upon wakening.  “The Department” is one of the nightmare poems where the narrator is driving a motor vehicle with the reader in the passenger seat through the land of the dead.  The scenery changes rapidly with each non-living person met.  In the end of the poem, Boime, the All-seer and self-appointed head philosopher character, demands the narrator to get off the road—meaning it is not time for the narrator to die yet.  But this is also meant to criticize the writer as narrator—in other words, Grossman’s method and thought of how poetry should be arrived at—the vehicle the metaphorical technique, the road the metaphorical path to result.  That is a Grossman self-effacing, or self-doubting, statement well said.  There are numerous poems of outstanding quality in this collection, too many to mention, but I particularly liked “Pat’s Poem,” a love poem, and “Alcestis,” a sonnet sequence written as a hymn.

 

Buy the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Woman-Bridge-Chicago-River-Poems/dp/0811207145

 

stephen-page-in-front-of-wheat-photoStephen Page is from Detroit, Michigan.  There he worked in factories, gasoline stations, and steel-cutting shops.  He always longed for a vocation associated with nature.  He now lives in Argentina, teaches literature, ranches, and spends time with his family. http://stephenmpage.wordpress.com/

 

I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast by Melissa Studdard

I ATEHardcover: 82 pages

Publisher: Saint Julian Press, Inc.; 1st edition (September 15, 2014)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0988944758

ISBN-13: 978-0988944756

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Reviewed by g emil reutter

Melissa Studdard writes of God as female birthing the universe, of what God could be, our reactions and creations. She writes in the poem, Naming Sky:

Kneel to the temple of wind. Listen to the voices
lingering in trees. When they moan,
it is your name they call. You can answer
with touch. You can call them God or sky or self.
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Studdard writes of truck drivers, Neruda, Van Gogh, of trees, animals and gatekeepers. She lives in the sunsets and stars, knows of shadows and lights. The opening of the poem, Those who See in The Dark, pulses with energy and images.
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So freedom would rain
In the ballrooms of their chests,
They entered sideways through the pulse
Of hands on imaginary dreams. One
Wore a wing beat in her eye,
The other, groves of laughter in her thumbs,
And all the while, they called it dancing.
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From Everything is so Delicious:
 
Sometimes
I feel so hungry, so thirsty,
I don’t want to die.
This desire to butter and eat the stars.
This desire to pack the sunset in my bag
and run home with her, to make
a terrarium for the moon.
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I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast is a fast paced creation of stars and sunsets of God and the images of the mind of Melissa Studdard. She is a poet of vison and sensitivity, of the perfect and imperfect, absorbing all around her.

 

You can check out the book here: http://www.amazon.com/Ate-Cosmos-Breakfast-Melissa-Studdard/dp/0988944758/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1411651757&sr=1-1&keywords=i+ate+the+cosmos+for+breakfast+by+Melissa+Studdard

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g-emil-reutter-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. (USA) https://gereutter.wordpress.com/

Red Seeps – Droplets of Doubt, Destiny and Devotion in Verse by Sadia Riaz Sehole

a16284Publisher:    Authorspress, New Delhi, India
Language: English
ISBN- 978-81-7273-932-4
 
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Reviewed by Shernaz Wadia
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Here I am, getting acquainted with Sadia Riaz Sehole’s maiden book of poems Red Seeps, Droplets of Doubt, Destiny and Devotion in Verse. The airy blue of the cover, with the title oozing red, belies the monochromatic visuals on the inside, both, together with the layout by Geetali Baruah. Striking! Will the 3Ds (Doubt, Destiny and Devotion) turn the readers into oysters that will nurture the pearl shown on the cover page? To find the answer, I obviously had to read the poems. 
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Poetry, to be good, should blend craft and magic; it should flow from the union of head and heart. All emotions can make a poem mushy…only hard-headed thoughts, without the mellowing edges of feeling and a poem can sound harsh and abrasive. 
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The back cover says, “For Sadia, writing is an outlet for a plethora of feelings, agony, dilemmas, chaos, evens and odds in life.” 
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Here’s what I found in Red Seeps.
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The poems are short, some of only four lines and simply crafted. They spew angst, screams, dumbed-down dreams, smothered passions, hidden trauma –   the exploration and revelation of the trajectory of a tempestuous emotional journey. A raw vein aches and pulsates through the book, interjected here and there by hope, prayer and courage. These try to balance the unnerving, unexpected harshness of the world with mature thinking. Each black and white image too is startlingly perfect…a stark reflection of the poem it illustrates, one complementing the other and making the book a visual delight despite its disturbing darkness.
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One could easily say the poems are ‘I-centric’ because almost every verse is in the first person but that would be over-simplifying and undermining their universal impact.  Though she is a woman and I can identify with her, let me clarify here that this is by no means a diatribe against men. Nor does Sadia whine in self-pity. Her quiet words give voice to all silent sufferers – male or female.
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One poem that haunts is ‘Silent Screams’.  
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“Alone and exiled/Disdained and assailed…..
…Soundless ache like boundless sands/and emptiness all around/Simply because I am too big to cry.”
That last line is a forceful lamentation on society’s collective conditioning where often we don’t let even children cry saying ‘Grown up boys/girls don’t cry.’
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‘Lament’ is another very relatable poem.
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“Mourning for the long-since-washed-away/Sand castles I had built on the beach/Eternally ephemeral/Evanescent/Ever-ending”
Hope, courage and self respect peep through ‘Torn Yet Not Worn’.
Yet little by little/A brave, relentless struggle/Regaining my pride/Carving my way…”.
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and again in ‘Courage’.
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The title poem ‘Red Seeps’ is about the cathartic value of writing – Inconsolable and insane/I picked up the pen/And here red seeps….
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Yes, the red of welts on the spirit, the red of passion, the red of open wounds and suppressed anger seeps on the pages of this anthology but there is also the incandescent colour of faith and devotion – “To the One and Only Invisible Being”, “Glory Unto You God, The Gracious”; if there is the blue of gloom there is also the glowing crimson of love – “Paean To My Parents”, “That’s What I’ll Be Without You”, “Dear Unseen Friend Across The Border”, “Brother, Brother, Oh My Brother”, “A Friend Like You”, “Nectar if Love”, “Absent”. 
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We also see the grey of doubt “Bewildered”; and the ambiguous hue of fatalism – “Me”, “I Wish To Die”, “This World”, “Time Ticks”.
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There are many more tinges and colours here, splashed from the spectrum that is life. I feel tempted to reveal them but I think it is only fair that I leave it to the readers to find those that blend/merge with/clash against the colours on their individual palettes, trickling through the vignettes of their life experiences.
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This is a fare bridled with the complexities and paradoxes of life. It is not so much Freud’s ‘play of childhood’ flowing into her creativity; it is the angst of youth. As Sadia weighs and processes her experiences and feelings we get glimpses into the twilight of a tormented soul; we see the ferret of fear gnawing; with her we also realise that there is hope – In my lonely world/Yet dawns a hope benign/An oyster may come/And make me its pearls. This is the complete   poem titled ‘Ray’.
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The preface by Vinita Agarwal is very sensitively discerning.
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A little more tightness of editing would not have left those hardly noticeable blemishes in an otherwise beautifully published work. Kudos to the publishers – Authorspress
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Before I end, a little about Sadia Riaz Sehole. She is a teacher and researcher, born and brought up in Lahore, Pakistan. After an early education in Science, she pursued Literature and is currently working on her PhD dissertation..
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Now  try and get to know her better, through her impressive book. 
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Shernaz-Wadia3- Shernaz Wadia, a retired teacher, lives in Pune, India. A free-lance writer, her articles, short stories and poems have been published in many online journals and literary magazines like Muse India, Boloji, Kritya and The Enchanting Verses etc. Her poems have been anthologised in Poets International, Roots and Wings and Caring Moments. Shernaz is in the process of publishing her poems in a book titled Whispers of the Soul.. She has also co-authored a book of poems titled “Tapestry”, with Israeli poetess Avril Meallem. It is an innovative form of collaborative poetry writing developed by the two of them.