Petals, a new poetry collection

A collection of poems titled “Petals” by Srutimala Duara was released in Delhi Book Fair by Dr. M. A. Shikandar, director, National Book Trust, India on August 28, 2014. Sharmila Abraham, Publishing Consultant, Delhi said, “Petals is the voice from the Land of the Seven Sisters – the northeast. Interestingly, it was a journalist from the northeast of India who coined the sobriquet Land of Seven Sisters, in the course of a radio talk show coinciding with the inauguration of the new states in January 1972.”

 

As expressed by a student of English literature from the Northeast, in the magazine Muse India – With distinct geographical and historical backgrounds, the poets of this region are little known and perhaps largely misunderstood as poets from the “insurgent homeland.” Contrary to the prevalent myth that Northeastern poetry is the agonized political outcry of its people. The poets from writing in English from this region share the romanticism and mythopoeic vision of their vernacular counterparts in other parts of the globe.

 

Northeast to most of us symbolises pristine atmosphere, jagged mountains, verdant valleys, and not to forget those unassuming souls. “Little wonder then that the poetry of this hitherto not-so-explored land rises above being a commentary on the loss of identity due to political forces in the modern times. The common twine that binds the poetry of this land is dominated by love for the land, nature, and narrative tribal folklore,” says Abraham.

 

Against this backdrop, ‘Petals’ is an expression of Srutimala Duara’s personalized experiences of the myriad nuances of Life; published by Akshar Publications in an attempt to showcase the unique flavor and distinctive identity from a talented voice of and from the region. The common strain that runs through all Duara’s poetry reflects that quintessential human quality, love for nature and life and all its anguish on its travails, tribulations and separation.

 

In her foreword, Duara writes, “From time to time, I typed out my thoughts and feelings into words, seeking short expressions, playing with words, images of seasons and colours springing to my mind.  I liked my pieces short; these are not haiku, for a haiku has certain rules that I did not follow. I simply enjoyed experimenting short, very precise expressions; in fact, I enjoyed this form so much that I kept writing one piece after another, not realising that over 200 pieces were already in my folder of ” petals “…..I did not name my pieces, just numbered them.”

 

Either penned during the English autumn when in England or in her department of English, Handique Girl’s College, the beauty of Duara’s expressions lie in their simplicity, pithiness and ease of assimilation. Many of us who have been choked with emotion many a time but lacked adequate expression, will find resonance in Duara’s verses. ‘Petals’ reaffirms our belief that love prevails over hatred, peace over violence and humanity has the ultimate healing impact over insurgency. Her opening lines: When I hid sorrow in my heart, she peeped through my eyes at the nothingness of life outside…compel one to go through this slim bouquet at a stretch, wanting to acquaint with every verse, delve deeper into the depths of the book, into the poet’s mind and existence…One can easily identify with the warmth of the lines: My green merges with the blue of your love, In the mellow sky of my life golden hues dazzle… or the anguish at the lines: You and I love with serene passion travel through life together like railway lines…

 

It rings a bell when Duara says: When I looked out of my window life greeted me with a smile; Before I could smile back it waved and passed by…OR Ghosts from the little lanes of my yesteryears rushed into the silence of my solitude…As a reflection of the times we live in: Thoughts pruned, Expressions bound, Words cut short, Wants stunted, Branching as directed, My love a bonsai…

 

Lastly, the poet’s delicate understanding of life is reflected in her poems: When I ask Death to take me in his icy embrace, the feel of your touch floods me with warmth; And Death says I cannot compete with the other love in your life… OR Death sits on the blade of a fan throwing down a twisted deliverance; I stand calculating the distance between the known and the unknown land… In a nutshell, the controlled use of words is at once noteworthy and the imagery poignant. ‘Petals’ is indeed a treat to those who enjoy a feast of words…