She locks that door knob just in time,
To find herself safe and divine.
For all the demons and the devil can’t reach out to her,
Here, the door the locked,
And here, she is the crown and the queen. Here, she knows she is Henry’s Clare,
Waiting, yet content in her despair.
Sometimes, she changes her role and becomes Michael Blomkvist,
Witty as hell, sharp as a blade,
Moving around with all of his grace. Lisbeth appeals to her in the darkest of hour,
For she knows, she was never a vower.
All of this mayhem stays inside the door,
Cuz outside, she’ll be just another lonely soul. But she will rise, and rise above all.
She is the light and the illusion of cowl.
Let her rest, she needs to revive,
For when she wakes, she’ll be on the highs.
Geetika Jhais a poet and lives in Maharashtra, India. She has completed B.E in Electronics and telecommunication and dabbles with words as a creative activity.
Amidst all obstacles,
I work towards shaping my identity.
My identity is my authority
And I am shaping it for me.
Yes, I am selfish
Yes, I am in my world.
I owe my life the dignity:
Dignity of a woman, my identity as a human.
Dictions and predictions,
Are shaped by my intensity.
I will work towards building my identity.
My identity is my authority.
Desires oozed from within
when he touched my soul with his hands.
Love emerged from wounded sacrifices
which we made to be with each other.
I could feel his flesh, lusting for love
I melted like a candle in his arms.
We met after a long time,
ours a long distance relationship
began which, with instant friendship.
Our desires melted when we kissed
it was pleasurable to close our eyes
and feel the adrenaline rushing through our bodies.
We cuddled each other,
even though nights were weary.
Anupreeta Chatterjeeis a feminist poet from Korba, Chhattisgarh, India. She has pursued her post graduation in Gender studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Hyderabad, India. Her poems have appeared in Ink Drift, Quillopia and elsewhere. Her poems appeared recently in an Anthology “From Spring to Autumn” by Turquoise Publication.
The Quiet Letter is proud to nominate Indian poets for a poetry anthology. These poets were published in TQL’s editions in 2017. The poets are :
Sneha Dewani and Anushka Pandit.
This is an essay explaining the reason behind selecting them and their poems for the nomination process as Indian Poets writing in Indian English.
Sneha Dewani‘s poem Female Genital Mutilation, and Anushka Pandit’s The Question Before Arrival published in The Quiet Letter are nominated for the Bettering American Poetry as Indian Poets.
The poems selected here by TQL reflects thematic issues which concern the publishing guidelines of the editorial section headed by Pawan N Hira, founder and editor-in-chief at The Quiet Letter.
Coming back to Sneha Dewani’s poem, Female Genital Mutilation is a poem that speaks to many. It opens up the narrative of women and sexuality while the message of a haunting procedure crosses boundaries to touch the matter of prejudice and perversion of male gaze in the patriarchal world who want to achieve at any cost the deliberate silences of women and to play with sexuality is one such act that is beautifully penned with a beat-like pulse to it by Sneha Dewani, the young poet writing from Raipur, India who is also pursuing architecture degree currently.
This mutilation process of genitals is rooted in the practice of gender inequality and like common problems that are seen today of unequal pay between men and women, sexual and devious power politics in the name of fame by powerful males of such a system like the recent case of Harvey Weinstein in Hollywood which led to the rise of #MeToo campaign and which also picked a momentum later in the Berlinale 2018 where movies concerning the themes on the lines of the campaign issue were met with a mixed reaction in Germany along with issues of refugees and migration shown through movies. This clearly shows how convoluted social media campaign can become where participation on Internet does not result in actual solidarity with the campaign on real ground where gender inequality is practiced in day to day lives of women. The power play of fame and entertainment is a dynamic process where compromise is a given thing that leads to harassment and victimization, and this is obviously seen in two different thought streams, where one side supports the women who are coming from entertainment business and the other who reject the claim saying the picture is not one sided.
There is also harassment and consistent stereotypes of women as mere actors of home-chores to clean and dust each and every thing as if she were a machine multi-tasking and such a gaze is thrown at them consistently by the males who move outside in the world with buddies and plans. The poem, Female Genital Mutilation in such time is a reflection of the threat made to female sexuality which should be celebrated rather than to suffocate it and distort it through power dynamics of societal games because according to UNICEF in 2016 alone 200 million women living today in 30 countries—27 African countries, Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen—have undergone the procedures. It is typically carried out by a traditional circumciser using a blade, and FGM is conducted from days after birth to puberty and beyond. In half the countries for which national figures are available, most girls are cut before the age of five as per the UNICEF reports recorded on Wikipedia. The poem is shown here:
The poem equally speaks of the horror of revisiting such a crucial moment later in teenage years when the poetess opens up her mouth foaming with letters to describe it and reaffirm the haunting memory that was unleashed on her without her consent during her childhood. It clearly speaks how the scar remains ever because of the notion of purity against sexuality where the former is always a thought rooted in middle-ages while sexuality is ignored and seen as deviant force rather than liberating force for women. If the first statue of woman Venus of Willendorf depicts exaggerated form of female, a mother goddess of fertility and if the liberating chronicles of Kamasutra and archaeological sites in India with caves carved show sexuality of men and women in ancient heritage, then sexuality as a thought of emancipatory force to open men and women equally is shunned and the brunt of it is mostly faced by women who are subject to the perverse gaze of male patriarchal world of objectification. Female Genital Mutilation as a poem opens that thought and does justice to what women go through in their lives in India especially where women are subjugated in homes and offices.
To select her and her poem for Bettering American Poetry as an Indian Poet, TQL is proud to have selected her as one of the contenders for the award apart from Anushka Pandit. Sneha Dewani’s poems are upcoming further in TQL this year which explore themes similar to this and with an aggression of a woman exploring the darkness of dominance and oppression by men.
Our second nomination, Anushka Pandit
and her poem furthers our notion to publish voices which matter. Her poem, The Question Before Arrival published in our August edition 2017 reflects a meta poem concerning silences and as an Indian poet, Anushka provides a brief exposure to what it means to look for hope amid darkness and as such she opens up threads of burden which one has to carry in the face of darkness while looking for light to arrive. The poem reproduced below shows the questioning power of the poet who opens up psychological dimensions to ask in probabilities of “maybe” as an uncertain gesture to prod the phase of darkness while leaving us in the end with a haunting question as if even the arrival as a woman would not bring an easy clarity into the mirror of self like the poem, Love after Love of Derek Walcott which describes the elation after struggle to meet the stranger back in the mirror. The ending lines of her poem reads as:
Do I have to take more
Some more pain and fear
It is a question that the young poet is keen to observe while building up the courage to face anything that would arrive because somewhere the poem reflects the life of shades we have to move through now and then. TQL selected three of her poems and this one reflects an Indian poet to establish her point of view while asking the question of what it means to arrive as a person, a poet in the world.
As a writer from Udaipur, India, Anushka works as the Community Head at Kalaage, a global platform built for writers to come and write together on one platform while engaging publishers and writers of many kinds in one thread which is showing its result in India as of now to bring Indian writers on the forefront. Anushka also handles the unit of Social Media as a Head at Ink Drift, a magazine prominently publishing diverse voices. The Quiet Letter is equally proud to carry her poems and to nominate her and her poem, The Question Before Arrival for Bettering American Poetry.
Now, the nominations for the selected poems and their authors are for:
The Bettering American Poetryis an anthology based project which promotes writers and their craft while being keenly aware of contemporary world of arts and the practice of struggles that goes with it for voices which have a hard time to find a way in the mainstream locus of media arts. In their own words:
“The first Bettering American Poetry project was initiated by Amy King, who gathered together a group of poets with complementary yet distinct approaches to politics/poetics to serve as co-editors of the first anthology project. Bettering American Poetry 2015 was born out of both rage and hope, with an eye toward better publishing practices and the championing of vital artists. The three main curators of BAP are also connected in their individual capacity at Vida, women in literary arts, which is a non-profit feminist organization committed to creating transparency around the lack of gender parity in the literary landscape and to amplifying historically-marginalized voices, including people of color; writers with disabilities; and queer, trans and gender nonconforming individuals.”
What they have to say about the nomination process also exemplifies their commitment to support individual and institution when selecting their roles:
“The BAP Series and its publisher, Bettering Books, curated by Sarah Clark, Amy King, and Héctor Ramírez. As curators of the series, Sarah, Amy, and Héctor supplement the selections made by editors where and if necessary (for instance, in the event that one editor cannot fulfill their duties, or if we simply feel the need to bring more underrepresented voices in the room). However, it is ultimately the role of each anthology’s editorial team to take charge of the content, shape, direction, and aspirations of their project however they see fit, beyond the general mission of the Bettering American Poetry Series.”
The co-editors of the previous Bettering anthology were contemporary poets who have solidified their voices as unique while allowing us to see the emergence of colored poets like a new renaissance slowly developing in our digital world of poetics and seeing them in the process earlier makes TQL happy to nominate Sneha Dewani and Anushka Pandit. The co-editors were:
Pawan NH, Editor in Chief @ The Quiet Letter
Poet and Novelist working with Gujarati
and English equally. His poems have appeared in
Kitaab, Parentheses Journal and elsewhere. His
two novels are in limbic space looking for a home
as he starts to work on another.
The Day Off: College, Hostel, Observation and a Dream
Observation is a unique act of looking at Nature’s creation. Our surrounding is stuffed with a variety of things. Sometimes few things present in our surrounding amaze us. We get awestruck by the fact of their presence, creation, look etc. No matter how simple or ordinary those things may appear, they are the powerhouses of uniqueness in the sense that nothing can replace another thing in any way. The same thought can be applied to each human being as one individual should not be compared with others which can lead to the destruction of mental peace. From observation comes motivation. Motivation is the driving factor behind any task.
Morning hour motivation comes to me through observing the components of nature. Nature has got vivid imageries and when you start to spend time with nature, you’ll certainly get mesmerized by the way things have been put in their places. Their places are too perfect in a broad sense. Likewise, we all have been assigned with a certain task to complete in our lives which we regard as the call of destiny and the set of challenges that obstruct our paths have been put according to our ability to overcome them.
It feels great in the act of chasing those white doves with the stealth footsteps, which seem to have descended down from heaven to quench their parched throats from a limited reservoir leaked from the water tank over the terrace. Now I realize why those birds have been tagged as the symbol of peace and serenity. It’s even their slight glimpse that brings peace. They are the vehicles of the air; flying high to touch the limitless sky. Then a flock of birds in the sky draws my attention. On close observation, that flock seems to have led by a bird-might be more experienced in comparison to the other in the group. There are several patterns that they create while traversing that azure land.
My day starts with taking a walk over the terrace. What can be a better idea to observe things in the vicinity of a higher place other than terrace? The terrace has always been among my favorite spots at the hostel to hang out with myself. I get to witness a hell lot amount of things from a different perspective which compels me to dress those experiences into words. Adding to this divine view is the prevalence peace and serenity! I observed something today which is worth mentioning. As I looked down from one side of the terrace, I found that a barren piece of land lying adjacent to the periphery of my hostel’s boundary had got beautifully transformed into a cultivated land, producing crops and cereals. The meticulous division of the land for the purpose of growing different crops looked no different from the political maps representing demarcations of different regions in geography books. The putting up of scarecrows (artificial human beings) dressed up in today’s fashionable attire (for protection of the crop from birds and animals) added an extra delight to the sight. I recalled those days I visited my village a few years back and such scenes were quite less in number, even though the frequency had reduced to a great extent due to the effect of urbanization and modernization. The architects of that field lived happily near it in a temporary settlement reminding me of another one which was once existent in another side of the hostel.
I reflected for a moment that whatever I was witnessing then, was the result of the relentless toil of those people. They took every care to convert a barren land into a productive one. I could relate that land to our minds and the crops to the countless thoughts which are required to be cultivated with utmost caution. Our thoughts make us who we are. In fact, we are the portraits of our own thoughts. All our emotions like pain, suffering, joy, sorrow are deeply connected with our thinking process. That’s why someone has very well remarked that “We suffer more in our thoughts than in reality”. We become happy or sad because we revise the thoughts of our past. Thoughts keep on creating utopian environments continuously in our minds. They have enormous power to transform us into anything.
You never can tell what a thought will do
In bringing you hate or love-
For thoughts are things and their airy wings
Are swifter than carrier doves.
They follow the law of the universe-
Each thing creates its kind,
And they speed O’er the track to bring you back
Whatever went out of your mind.
Looking at the importance of thoughts, I remembered Napolean Hill had once advised everyone to devote some time for analyzing one’s own thought pattern because of our mental processes each destructive thought the same way as in case of a constructive one. Both problems and solutions are present in our mind according to a saying there are no limitations to the mind except those we acknowledge. Quoting the author’s statement from the novel ‘Think and grow rich’, “We are what we are because of the vibrations of the thought we pick up and register, through the stimuli of our daily environment.
“If you think you are beaten, you are,
If you think you dare not, you don’t
If you like to win, but you think you can’t
It is almost certain you won’t.
If you think you’ll lose, you are lost,
For out of the world we find,
Success begins with fellow’s will-
It’s all in the state of mind.
If you think you are outclassed, you are,
You’ve got to think high to rise,
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win a prize.
Life’s battle don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man
But soon or later the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.”
Taking care of your thoughts is as important as taking care of your body. Amidst these train of thoughts, I forget that the day has started to lose its brightness gradually.
Being a daydreamer, the terrace provides me enough elements to dream about. My restless mind would run in all directions just like my vision. The vision of mine which used to get confined within the four walls of the room has now been liberated, extending its reach to infinity, boundless possibilities. My mind picks up the subject of dream whenever my eyes get transfixed at any point. Then I would start to weave dreams about it and these hypothetical connections to the things present in my vicinity would break all differences between reality and imagination already existing inside my mind. I get amazed by the inflow of powerful thoughts and start to pen them down. Countless articles have got their birth from here only. Sometimes, I’m with academic study material other times I’m with a non-academic book. When there are no friends with me to accompany, those little birds start to play around me and I somehow start to enjoy their friendship. That’s when I realized friendship is not just an emotion bound to human beings, it’s something which can get developed as an intrinsic interest in non-living things. The surrounding is so lively that I get instant motivation from it. The courses which always appeared burden to me melt down into their easy form. I don’t know how. Is that the magnetic effect of the place?
The sunset view is breathtaking. The fierce hot burning yellow colored cosmic body, Sun turns orange, pink then gets absorbed amidst the vast stretch of clouds. The clouds, fundamentally, the agglomeration of numerous tiny water droplets, bear the shades of a color pallet at different instances. On closely observing, I find a resemblance of those yellow and peach colored clouds with those of the cream over an ice cream cone. The sky radiates the colors of a painter’s brush or I’m watching a creation of the greatest painter, the almighty, I just can’t differentiate. The commotion on the other side of the boundary of the hostel drags me close to the boundary of the terrace. When my steps take me there to have a glance, I find a bunch of toddlers playing with clay- in the lap of nature. Neither the darkness of the surrounding nor the responsibilities of the life scare them off. They are like free birds flying carelessly with the passage of time. The cold blowing breeze makes me light and I let myself get blown with watching the activities of those notorious kids. It makes me realized how quickly my childhood days have passed and the days of adulthood that I imagined as a child are not that amusing. The floating of cotton with the breeze in the atmosphere creates the scene picturesque. It seems as if there is a unique combination of summer and winter as the spread of cotton in ground resembles snow.
The darkness of the sky is now accompanied by a silver-colored celestial body shining prominently with other numerous tiny stars. On observing the moon closely, I find many unidentified scars over it which reminds me of a tale that my grandma used to narrate in my childhood days. The gist is- Once a hare visited the moon and it got lost there. That’s why the shape of that lost hare is still visible. There was no congruency of that tale with the reality but we as children were fascinated by it. As the night grows thick, the flickering radiance from the other side of the river resembles little candles spreading the light amidst the ever-growing darkness. A thick layer of grey colored fume ejected out from the chimneys of the industries diffuse in the tar-colored background in the backdrop of many colored lights of the structures turning on and off synchronously. Now, the tall structure of the transmission tower stands still in front of my eyes. I recognize it to be off suspension type with few discs hanging down. I wonder how it is different from the famous Eiffel tower! I mean, that ordinary tower can be analogous to the famous Eiffel tower. The road, on the other side of the view, seems to be invisible except the tiny moving vehicles. Their positions can be traced by the light emanating from them which looks like a video game being played in front of me and yes I’m the spectator and the player is omniscient, omnipotent and invisible, needless to say, that the world is the big screen of the video game, visualize the hugeness of this screen for once! My vision can chase few moving lights performing rectilinear motion and then disappear. Sometimes, it seems as if a competition is going on when a vehicle overtakes another. Everything seems magical and the air takes me to a completely different realm of imagination.
I’ve not been able to resist myself from spending my evening time over the terrace, gazing that distant view of mountains and river at my favorite spot over the terrace and simultaneously appreciating the splendor of each component that I visualize and perceive. The scene is breathtakingly beautiful as it reminds me of the paintings drawn in the fantasy story books of childhood days that my father purchased. As a child, my innocent mind would always question whether such places really existed or will it be ever possible for me to witness this sight in my lifetime. After so many years, I now have the answers to all those unanswered questions that once used to get built up inside my mind. It’s perhaps this place, the place where I’m right now present. The small lighted houses at the opposite bank of the river seem to be no different from the demonstration of any mysterious fairyland as if those have been constructed with the help of small and delicate matchsticks – a unique masterpiece!! Simply wonderful and amazing!! The glow of faint light resembles the ray of light emanating from burning candles spreading the light as far as possible and destroying the darkness. The red colored flag at the apex of the Lord Shiva’s temple shines in the dark background of the sky jeweled with tiny sparkling stars. And, now the atmospheric air transports the sound of evening prayer to my ears- so divine and peaceful, and few lines of songs of childhood days running inside my mind-
All things bright and beautiful
All creatures great and small
All things wise and wonderful
The Lord God made them all…
The Lord God made them all (Chorus).
Everything around us has got so much to give. It seems as if the inanimate things want to convey us a message of eternity and peace. What is required is to lend an ear to their unspoken or a keen observation.
Swati Sarangi is currently pursuing Masters Degree in Electrical Engineering. She completed B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from Indira Gandhi Institute of Technology, Sarang, Odisha. She writes on two blogs along with her sister Sweta, Creative Constellation and Words To World on different blogging platforms. Her poems have been published in The Stage, The Seasons, Bibliograph, Agnishatdal and Writer’s Ezine.