I taste Cauvery in New York, glinting thinly where it crosses
We are on both shores at once, both or more?
There is a breakthrough in these poems by Pramila Venkateswaran which is at once notable and tantalizing. In the current ascendance of multiculturalism, this fine South Asian poet teaches us that the aesthetics of human investigation -- whether interpersonal, sexual or charged with politics and culture -- may achieve something greater than mere coloration, hue or facile explication. Here we have a poet who eschews the easy statement in her search for subtlety of sensibility.
With remarkable clarity and dazzling imagery these poems "walk through history, without the heaviness of a camera," bringing us moving and compassionate accounts of displacement, loss, pilgrimage and hope. Whether in her own voice, or through voices from the past, Pramila Venkateswaran speaks to us in a language that is at once deeply lyrical, humble, intense and intelligent. In Thirtha "words thud louder / than hoe hitting stones" -- a poignant sound that resonates long after closing the book.
In her first volume of poetry, Thirtha (pilgrimage), Pramila Venkateswaran is a poet spinning gold, bringing together many perspectives - Indian, American, immigrant to America, daughter, mother, woman, listener, speaker, and more.
In the foreword, Pramila says the "pilgrimage her family made every summer to various parts of India to visit temples continues to inform her life." "In fording the oceans between India and America," the author says, she "becomes the pilgrim once again· returning renewed." Pramila Venkateswaran's voice is magical - taking me out of myself, and returning me renewed.
These are works that at once notable and tantalizing for their delicate handling of the aesthetics of human exploration - whether interpersonal, sexual, or charged with politics and culture. We learn through these poems to go beyond mere coloration of multicultural expression to something greater - statements which go beyond facile explication to a higher subtlety of sensibility.
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