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The Stinking Rose
Categories: BAME, Indian
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Paperback (144 pages)
(Pub. Feb 1995)
But the soul will be the colour of turmeric
spilt on white atone.
And the creature who lives in the soul
will count with her thumb
on the joints of her fingers.
Time will be slow
and Time will be concrete
and Time will be stuck
like a wet crow peering down
from a tree, broken and black
from 'An India of the Soul'
The Stinking Rose is one of the names for a plant that arouses strong feelings: garlic. No one is neutral about it. Sujata Bhatt explores the various mythologies and the magical and practical aspects of garlic in a sequence of twenty-five parts, is also haunted by places, especially Vancouver Island (where the author lived and worked for six months), and by her native India. Europe is also present, a place of sometimes reluctant abode. There is a dialogue between new worlds and old, intensifying towards the end of the volume in a series of experimental poems, building on the experience of those celebrated earlier `bilingual' poems which bring Gujarati and English together.
Awards won by Sujata Bhatt Winner, 2000 Italian Tratti Poetry Prize Winner, 1991 Cholmondeley Award Winner, 1988 Alice Hunt Bartlett Award (Brunizem) Winner, 1991 Commonwealth Poetry Prize (Asia)
Short-listed, 1995 Forward Poetry Prize
Praise for Sujata Bhatt 'a substantial collection of poems, one that allows us to travel, dream and learn, but one that ultimately moves us by the quietude of its stance and its impeccable articulation.'
Times Literary Supplement
Bhatt's style is refreshingly plain and direct, depending for its lyricism on moments of gentle repitition.
Alan Marshall, The Daily Telegraph. 'An exciting first collection, moving and invigorating.'
Poetry Review 'Sujata Bhatt leads the reader through the bright, familiar world and on into the dark until her words pierce that darkness, offering a light that will challenge and reward. Here are poems that move confidently through that dangerous border-world between the real and the surreal, illuminating both. This book is a treasure-house of modern, magical poems.'
John F. Deane 'Here is a chance to see Sujata Bhatt's favourite themes strengthened by re-gathering. A common theme is language, the very stuff of poetry, given special insight by her travels and her multilingual experience. In India, she says, it is 'a sin to be rude to a book'; 'The Stare' considers two babies, human and monkey, gazing at each other curiously, one with language, the other with' who knows? Elsewhere she considers the loss of her mother tongue, 'dead' in her mouth but returning to her in dreams. A broad-minded, humane, imaginative book.'
Gillian Clarke, National Poet of Wales
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