Category Archives: literary news

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
.
In this collection of poems, Carlos Reyes writes of a garden, a shack in a field, of viewing the northern lights and of Knowing:
.
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:
.
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/

Fox Chase Review Fiction, Autumn 2014

Autum 2014 Cover

http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/autumn2014fiction.html

The Fox Chase Review Autumn 2014 Poets

Autum 2014 Cover

http://www.thefoxchasereview.org/autumn-poetry-2014.html

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/

Poetry in the news…

the-poet-kelly-drive, Philadelphia, Pa. Photo-by-katie-reutter

The-Poet-Kelly-Drive, Philadelphia, Pa. Photo-by-Katie-Reutter

The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)

https://libcom.org/blog/xulizhi-foxconn-suicide-poetry

Not About Heroes, Trafalgar Studios, review: ‘It’s the poetry that stays with you’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/11225349/Not-About-Heroes-Trafalgar-Studios-review-Its-the-poetry-that-stays-with-you.html

Guelph academic produces poetry in Thoreau-like setting

http://www.guelphmercury.com/opinion-story/5024474-guelph-academic-produces-poetry-in-thoreau-like-setting/

Poetry in Translation: A Conversation With Jana Putrle Srdić

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/julie-r-enszer/poetry-in-translation-a-c_1_b_6107194.html

Concord man’s journey from illiteracy to writing poetry

http://www.contracostatimes.com/concord/ci_26922017/concord-mans-journey-from-illiteracy-writing-poetry

Ancient Chinese Tomb Reveals Vivid Murals & Poetry

http://www.livescience.com/48672-ancient-chinese-tomb-reveals-vivid-murals-poetry-photos.html

Swahili poet speaks about works written during imprisonment

http://www.dailytargum.com/article/2014/11/swahili-poet-speaks-about-works-written-during-imprisonment

A Marine Heals Through Poetry

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/1in20/post_8593_b_6136496.html

Veterans Day Poems: 9 Pieces Of Poetry To Honor Vets And Soldiers

http://www.latintimes.com/veterans-day-poems-9-pieces-poetry-honor-vets-and-soldiers-273437

FCR Broadsides 14-15 and 14-16 Available on November 30th

IMG_0558

Our Broadside Series continues with 14-15 and 14-16 printed in a limited edition of 30 copies.  Broadside 14-15, an excerpt from the poem, For Etheridge Knight by Jeffrey Ethan Lee and 14-16, Perception of Nails by Lynette G. Esposito. These broadsides will be available on November 30th at our Featured Poet/Writer Reading with Jeffrey Ethan Lee and Lynette G. Esposito at Ryerss Museum and Library. More information at this link: http://foxchasereview.wordpress.com/2014/10/31/esposito-and-lee-in-fox-chase-november-30th/