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ISBN: 978 0 856359 35 4
Categories: Black and Asian, Indian
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: October 1991
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
There is that moment
when the young human child
at the young monkey child
who stares back-
WINNER OF THE 1991 COMMONWEALTH POETRY PRIZE (ASIA)
In Sujata Bhatt's poem `Understanding the Ramayana', a troupe of costumed monkeys enters the garden of her childhood. As they mime the royal figures of India's epic, the children glimpse beneath the elaborate robes their looped up tails.
We felt relieved to know
the narrator hadn't chopped off
or even shortened
the glorious question marks
curling behind their backs.
Monkey Shadows exposes those glorious question marks of our animal nature. Human violence and love are aspects of the oldest riddle, answered here with original force. Bhatt's experience is wide; all of it is relevant to her reading of the world: western science, Indian culture, American education, European marriage, and being female bring clarity and urgency to her vision of the late 20th century.
Her poetry, with sensuousness and instinctive sophistication, confronts the contradictions in a world of scientific laboratories and mythic landscapes. She finds contradictions in her own past and present: her grandfather imprisoned for helping Gandhi reads Tennyson in his cell; a young Indian woman in Germany reflects on the gold Hindu swastika her grandmother gave her as a blessing.
Sujata Bhatt is the first female voice in a long line of writers. Her stance is questioning, wry and wise. Monkey Shadows is her second collection of poems. The first was her award-winning Brunizem.
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