My Year in Blogging

For a baby step in January 31, 2014 to the small milestones achieved during the course of the year, here is how my blog fared in 2014:

https://mistressandhermuse.wordpress.com/2014/annual-report/

Hope to have more readers, forge new connections with fellow writers and bloggers in the year to come. See you all!

Heaven’s Zone: Ekphrastic poetry

painting

a classic painting of Hundertwasser, a famous poet from Austria. Pic courtesy: The Woman Inc Poetry Project

 

A colony of colored houses
Hangs over my haywire dreams
My eyes house them all,
A painter’s palette of light,
The azure blue, the sunlight yellow,
The crimson and the glistening white,
Stretching out like heaven’s zone.
And the vines and the tender greens
That whisper like birds singing,
At the prime of kissing the earth.

My eyes are succumbing
To the painterly strokes.
I am one with the juicy pastures,
Roaming in the blue night
With the hummingbird,
The faint clouds and the moon.
Grazing along with the blue-winged dreams
Exhaling the stillness, the infinity
Of the scene, stumbling in its glimmering beauty.

Footnote: An ekphrastic poem, based on a classic painting of Hundertwasser, a famous poet from Austria who was known for his paintings about houses. I thank the Woman Inc Poetry Project for providing this picture as a theme to evoke our creative/artistic responses towards it.

The Stillborn

In a crumpled bed of blood and free-flowing love
My child is borne. Let me hold him close,
Let me behold him in his fairy-winged sleep,
Let me bathe him with my milk and unshed tears
That had awaited his first cry, sprouting open,
Unfurling the soft petals of his sleep.

His tiny fingers folded, resolute,
His curled up limbs, his body like a sonnet
Unfolding before eternity, do let me
Hold him close until his cry merges
In whirlwind, in spirals, in harmony
With my never-ending lullaby.

What is this tingling wave
Of pain in the folds of my muscles?
This soreness, swelling of my nerves,
My bones crackle, the monitor and the machinery
The bubbles of conspiracy lull me to sleep.
I won’t succumb to the call of sleep till I hold
My crying baby, till I don’t feed him,
Look into the verse, the melody of his face
The valley of my body gleaming with
The first ray of my newborn’s smile.

I am not a part of this vicious silence, this numbness around.
The room stinks with your hushed conversations,
Your measured intrusions and the smell of sedation.
Whose demon hands plunged into the room
And plucked my cherub?
Can’t you see my body bursting open in pain
And surrender, to see him cry?
To settle him in the soiree of my bosom?

The silence of the room, numinous, resounding,
Calls you, my baby. I hum, in voiceless notes,
Your unsung lullabies.

Footnotes: My humble dedication to the mothers in all parts of the world who have lost their little angels during childbirth. This poem is written in the voice of a delusional woman who believes her stillborn child is alive. All my sincere thanks to The Woman Inc Poetry Project for this writing prompt and for all your wonderful poems in response to it.

This, I Believe, I Am

pen-o-paper-e1418794922869

Image source: Morselsandjuices.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short creative nonfiction piece of mine, in which I essay my internal journey, the conflicts on the way and how I am happy to break the mold of stereotypes, ‘This, I Believe, I am’, published at ‘Morsels and Juices’, an e-journal, a community showcasing stories, articles and poems by aspiring women writers and published authors.

Sharing an excerpt of the piece here:

“When I was the skinny little dreamy-eyed girl with braids, pleats and an awkward posture, I found myself growing up in a house cluttered with old furniture and the sternness of rituals, with a father always away at work and more away from doting his child, a silent mother cocooned in her daily worries, an aunt making up with her supernatural stories, a school full of classmates stealing lunch from my box and discarding me as ‘vague, imaginative and weird’. Months and years flew past, swallowing me up with devouring loneliness. The sky seemed to loom, gray and dead, above me. Yet, in my mind, a sulfur glow of a different sun gave way to streaks of opaque dark.  I’ve been threatened and insulted by the mediocrity around, but in rare moments of clarity, I saw the world as it should be. I broke the chains of mediocrity, and felt free. I felt free with redeeming, everlasting imagination, with the ever-growing, luscious vines of music which I discovered everywhere around me. In the beauty of my solitude which then, had overpowered me, I began to look for the mystery of colors and brush strokes, with the inspiration and creation of artists I seemed to know from my previous births.”

To read the full essay, do visit:

http://morselsandjuices.com/tea-room/this-i-believe-i-am/comment-page-1/#comment-1502

Dreaming: The Resurrection

love-poem1234

Image source: bestfreepoems.wordpress.com

 

The Times Square in your words of lilting love,

A happy coronation, giving a home to your candle-lit promises,

A lustrous, magical night on the New Year’s Eve, with its winged flight.

The Caribbean cruise, our bodies undulating in the sensual calling

Of the ocean, the mirrored reflections of us, coiled, smothering.

 

Deep into the sea, in the turquoise blue waves,

Your hungering touch races, sobers down, and whispers:

“Would you love me, all your life, little mermaid?”

 

 

Resting on my new bridal breasts, deepest sighs of pain

Slide down to the waters, holding me for moments,

Strumming their unsaid words like fingertips dancing, playing,

I feel the ripples of their fingers, emaciated, drowning.

Fingers that had wrote a world for long forsaken love stories,

Drift ashore. I open my mouth and moan, in an island of sanctioned love.

 

And yet, the world around us, a carnival of trampled love,

Our longings, crackling with unfinished songs,

We forget the impending warranty of our mortality.

In the ephemeral twilight of the island,

The conch shell blows, awakens, unleashes and conjoins

Copulated souls. The symphony of a new, unknown raaga

Plays on, “na jayate na mriyate va kadaachin, naa yam bhutwa  bhavitya

Na hanyate hanyamaane shareere”……

The soul that is unperishable, immortal, old, eternal,

Undefined by birth or death, becomes a trembling, raging river of love.

The newly discovered terrain may or may not be

The bustling Times Square, the iconic Eifel Tower,

Or the mighty, cascading richness of the Niagara. But it sure is

The smoldering hearth of the bride who takes you in,

Throws herself with you in the boundless waters, melts with you

In the wild spring’s song, as you whisper to her:

“Would you love me all your life, little mermaid?”

 

The dream is but a commonplace one, collapses and resurfaces

In every wake of dawn, a corpse washed out of its last remnants of blood,

As it calls us, in a chilled world of grey, to take in its scattered ashes.

We breathe in and breathe out the promises that blossomed,

Weaved memories in pieces, wilted and died, to rise from their ashes,

Phoenix-like, spreading across the spring canvas.

“Ajo nityo saswatohayang puraane/Na hanyate hanyamaane shareere”.

The soul that is unperishable, immortal, old, eternal,

Undefined by birth or death, chases you in curved lines

Of the landscape of this life, dances barefoot,

To the silken music of death. In the horizon beyond,

Another life, surges, ripples in light, dreams,

In the shared tapestry where we have woven our love.

 

Lopa Banerjee. December 9, 2014

 

Footnotes: This poem is actually a sequel of my other love poem ‘The Drunken Lovers’ Song’, part of a series of love poems that I am developing out of the thoughts and contexts of some old Bengali love poems I had penned a decade earlier. The Bengali poems were written with more or less similar thoughts, but with different nuances.

 

 

 

The Forgotten Swan Songs

 

fairy tale

Image source: SurLaLune Fairy Tales Blog. Surlalunefairytales.blogspot.com

 

Rippling in melancholy melodies,
Washing past the jagged edges
Of my furtive calf-love,
My girlhood days breathe in a little nook
Of oblivion, a passing phase,
Forgotten pearls, scratched and resurfaced
In the waves of my kitchen songs,
Nestled in embalming domesticity.

My days, recycling and monitoring
At every turn, I thought my swan songs were long dead.
But a quicksilver flash of torn off petals
Wave at me in the mirror.

In their hushed fog, their half-finished stories
I feel, that their contours are running
Deeper than my brain had thought.

Footnotes: My poetic attempt to celebrate, search for, bring out the scattered pearls of my girlhood days. The days of my fumbling with hormones and love songs, the days of my secretly spun girl stories, the days of my sunshine dreams and the trophy of attaining puberty. Created and developed today while hosting an online poetry workshop for ‘The Woman Inc Poetry Project’. Thank you, Pooja Garg Singh and all other friends at TWIPP!

 

Family Matters: Telling True Stories

A nonfiction essay of mine, developed from a panel discussion I had moderated at the Kriti Festival of literature and arts at the University of Illinois at Chicago. My account has been shaped by both my individual journey as a reader and writer of creative nonfiction and also the perspectives offered by the published authors in the panel. Thank you, Mosarrap Hossain Khan and Bhaswati Ghosh, editors of ‘Cafe Dissensus Everyday’ for publishing this piece:

Our-Family-Story

Image source: yvetteportermoore.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do read the full essay here:

http://cafedissensusblog.com/2014/11/30/family-matters-telling-true-stories/

Also, my special vote of thanks to Mohsin Maqbool Elahi, my journalist friend from Karachi, Pakistan for sharing this piece in his Facebook wall! Thankful to all of you. Hope this essay resonates with you, the readers of my blog.

Book Review: ‘A Treatise on Poetry for Beginners’ by Dr. Ampat Koshy

Book Review

‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ by Dr. Ampat Koshy

Speak Up Publishing

Available at Smashwords.com

And Amazon.com   

So delighted to let you know that this review of mine has been published today at ‘Learning and Creativity’, an online resource on literature, films and the arts. Thank you, Dr. A.V. Koshy for this wonderful book, and thanks Antara Nanda Mondal, Editor of L&C, for publishing my humble review of the book. You can find the published review under their ‘Literature/Book Reviews’ section.

http://learningandcreativity.com/book-review-treatise-poetry-beginners-dr-ampat-koshy/

 

10302098_10154875369710006_650095434397155230_n

While commenting in his good-humored and pedantic style on the definition, scope and beauty of poetry writing, Dr. Koshy, in his book ‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ writes:

“What is poetry? My aim is not to be prescriptive. I have been a little descriptive previously but I would like to repeat certain metaphors like the body of poetry is a kingdom with many mansions and it extends across all of the time, all of space and runs like a golden thread through all the languages living and dead.”

A hopeless, despondent romantic desperately in love with verses ever since I can remember, with an inexplicable longing to pen them without the critical, scholarly eyes to see through their distinctive components, this illustration appealed instantly and immensely. I meandered through the 60 pages of the book, read a couple of the chapters more than once, also skimming through the various reviews of the book written by poets, scholars and hopefully one or two beginners like myself, stumbling over the act of writing poetry. In my quest to understand the various complex parameters and components of poetry that he analyzes, I gradually began to discover that Dr. Koshy’s ‘Treatise’ is a journey to make his readers understand why and how, poems through the ages, through their similes, metaphors, onomatopoeia, alliteration, euphony and cacophony, are actually meant to cater to our hearts, our emotions and finer human feelings.

Characterized by refined, superior poetic sensibilities, a keen eye for details into the minutest structural and aesthetic aspects of poetry writing and a signature wit, Dr. Koshy’s ‘A Treatise on Poetry For Beginners’ can be defined as a complete, comprehensive manifesto on poetry writing with a possibility of diverse readership. It is, first and foremost, for amateur poets striving to enhance their craft. It is also meant for mature poets who love looking into the art and evolution of poetry into its present times, and last but not the least, for the aficionados who love reading poetry for its richness of sounds, metaphor, imagery and a huge variety of poetic styles.

Dr. Koshy begins his book with a critical, scholarly voice that analyzes the act of poetry writing in terms of its wider framework of meaning, where he refers to a wide variety of philosophical theories, to Aristotle, Longinus, Horace, Pope and “Ars Poetica” and also the theory of Sanskrit and Dravidian aesthetics, all of which has cumulatively shaped his creative, critical and aesthetic perceptions regarding the art of poetry. In the chapters that follow, the readers walk hand-in-hand with him towards a lively, entertaining, amusing territory of intense discourses on the various aspects of the form, structure and stylistic components of writing poetry. And what is remarkable in this journey is that in all of the chapters, he unfailingly exhibits his exceptional depth and nuance about the mental, cognitive process of poetry writing as a genre/form.

It becomes evident while reading the book that Dr. Koshy has a voracious love for poetry that dates back to the classical Pope and Dryden and moves back and forth into the realm of the modern, post-modern poems of the 20th Century (with special emphasis on T.S. Eliot’s poetry) and poetry that features in online social networks like Facebook, poetry which defines the expressions of creativity in today’s digital age. Dr. Koshy’s book is a beautiful, evocative journey into the poetic realm of the classical poets he precisely refers to and also into the world of online and print anthologies of our current times that fosters the abundance of seasoned and amateur poets of the new generation. What strikes me most is the effortless combination of his canonical, critical voice and also the easy, yet sophisticated humor he employs in the chapters of the book (he refers to them as ‘posts’), with which he strives to pick up and string together the scattered pearls of style, imagery, voice, figure of speech and most importantly, rhyme, and how they work together to form eloquent, free-flowing, lush and timeless poems.

The critic in Dr. Koshy lets the readers discover the various elements of sound, rhythm and six different sensory perceptions while dissecting the various images in the poems he illustrates. The visual, musical, auditory and olfactory amalgamation of the images he illustrates lets the readers discover the exotic beauty and sensuality in the language, that is, the body of the poems. However, what shines through in his descriptive, scholarly analysis is that through the various wonders of figurative speech, through the beauty of the sounds of the words coming together, through the poets’ reliance on abstract images, he speaks of the poems as beautiful and complete vehicles of self-exploration of the poet (example—the poem ‘There is no Frigate like a Book’ by Emily Dickinson). Also, through his illustration of the poems of Dylan Thomas, T.S. Eliot and Samuel Beckett and his analysis of the various aspects of their poetic form, structure and voice, he effectively shows us how these poets have mastered the traditional forms of poetry, and also experimented with the elements of form, structure and voice while crafting their masterpieces.

With his intense critical analysis and observation, Dr. Koshy unfolds each chapter with conviction and a dash of humor, while he demonstrates the stylistic components of the poems he chooses to discuss with clarity and originality. Each chapter is characterized by one or two of his distinctive revelations, be it about the latest use of sonnets in English poetry, or the inimitable poetic voice of Eliot, or the surprising possibilities of today’s world of self-publishing in Facebook and vanity publishing. The book, thus, emphasizes on the fact that more than an esoteric discourse, the art of poetry can be explored as an ever-evolving artistic expression of a community involved in reading, writing and analyzing poetry. Myself being a small part of this sprawling community, would thus, always have this book with me as a keepsake that would remind me of poetry writing as a literary, rhetorical and well as a community pursuit.

Cocooned: A Refrain of Love

My first published story at ‘Morsels and Juices’, a women-centric e-magazine, a story/creative nonfiction piece, ‘Cocooned: A Refrain of Love’, written as a tribute to the loving memory of my dear Bibiji (Grandmother-in-law). The piece encompasses the bond of love that we both shared in the six years that we had known and come close to each other, the bond of love that she shared with the old ancestral house of my in-laws’ and also with my elder daughter, though only for a brief time span.

Sharing a small excerpt from the piece:

Bibiji with her one and only komolheere!

Bibiji and me at my in-laws’ old ancestral house’. September 2007 Image Credit: Lopa Banerjee

“She came to see me, chaperoned by enthused relatives and her only son almost a fortnight before my wedding day. A lady with white alabaster skin draped in the starched whiteness of her muslin saree, oozing with style and composure, she lifted my chin and bent towards my eager cheeks to plant a kiss. Her wrinkled skin smelled of the ardor of a long-lost love, the love of a grandmother I never had a chance to remember.

Mishti meye. Amar sona” (Sweet girl, my love), she uttered, seated on the makeshift bed in our damp, yellow living room where the cacophony of other elderly voices mingled with the TV commercials of toothpaste and perfumes, and the mellow, trembling voice of my own. I sang a couple of Tagore songs, watching her intent eyes blinking, glistening in the half-light of the room.

A couple of days prior to this meeting, we had talked and roused ourselves across the oceans, me and my husband-to-be, our over-enthused minds waxing and waning with the faint moonlit nights, discussing, among other things, this encounter. “Do call her Bibiji (dear Mistress), not Thamma (Grandma), as I call her by that name since my childhood. She is a bit impulsive and also has a strong mind about everything. But she will like you, my instinct is telling me.”

To read the full story, do visit:

http://morselsandjuices.com/tea-room/lopa-banerjee-cocooned-a-refrain-of-love/

Do read and leave the imprints of your mind!