Night Sky Between The Stars is a collection of 55 poems by Usha Kishore, an Indian born British poet.
Her poems in this collection express her strong emotion for the Indian womanhood. As a matter of fact, it is not only the poet's emotion, rather, a collective emotion of several Indian woman who have obliged to this country's masculine supremacy since ages.
Several verses in the book shake the core of Indian values, what we proudly call our culture and tradition.
I strongly feel that poetry is something that needs to be rejoiced. Reviewing it is certainly not just. I see it as an art that flows from the heart unlike other kind of writings as fiction which originates from the mind. I take the liberty here, to discuss those poems and the lines from this collection, that moved me at a personal level.
Indian Women in Mythology
The collection includes quite a lot poems that criticize the fate of several women of our Indian mythology. The poem Draupadi depicts Draupadi's vehemence at the court on the fateful day of the dice game. The poet's concluding lines to Lord Krishna were brilliant:
Honour the piece of my torn sarithat once bound your bleeding hand.Clothe me from eternity to eternityand save womanhood from ruin,for a tale to be told until the end of time.
The poem Gandhari is Queen Gandhari's despondency of her fate of being dragged to a foreign land, where she gets subjected to twin blindness, one of her physical vision and the other of her inability to stand against her blind husband and unjust sons. It's rare that we hear the voices of such mythological characters! The poem is written with such intense wrath as though it was the queen herself who penned down through the poet.
Women bounded by Indian Culture
The Henna Ceremony is what an Indian bride-to-be who has met her man-to-be of a foreign land, for just a couple of hours, feels at the bridal henna ceremony.
..............Before my henna fades, my husband would fly away and I would watchthe colour dulling in my palms, wait for my visaand pray to the eternal bride for a land of dreams.
The three poems about grandmother speak of the confinement of women of the previous generation. A few lines from one of them:
At primary school, her eight year old
consciousness was dyed.......only to be erased by marriagethat walled her tender years.
There are more poems on social atrocities against women as dowry, sati and Nirbhaya's traumatic incident. I wish to quote several more verses from the book, but I am afraid that wouldn't be right.
These are the poet's contribution towards her Ekphrastic project canned "Prerna', in association with an artist of Warli and Madhubani paintings. Goddess Palaghata, Waghya God and Radha to Krishna are a few among them.
This is Usha Kishore's yet another collection of poems on the paintings of Raja Ravi Varma, the great artist known for his surreal depiction of Indian women in poignant moods. She beautifully interprets the voices of these women in a contemporary light. Nala leaving Damayanti, Shanhtanu wooying Satyavati and Taramati to Harichandra are a few among them.
My Favourite Poems
Little mother touched me the most of all in the collection. It's about the sad story of a young girl, a victim of child marriage and widowhood, married at six and widowed at sixteen. It felt relieving to realize that at least traditions like this aren't common anymore in our country though there must be villages that still patronize such unforgivable acts.
Translated Woman seemed much as the poet's personal identity of a woman of both the East and the West. It was a nice read.
In as much as I admire poet Usha Kishore's gift of words, I heart the subjects in them too. I wish this book to reach poet lovers across the country, not just to revel in them but also to contemplate on the future of women in India. This is her second collection of poems and I wish to see many more of her works in the years to come.
Reviewed for the Publisher
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book as a complimentary copy from the Publisher in exchange for a honest review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Title: Night Sky Between The Stars
Author: Usha Kishore
Publisher: Cyberwit Publications
About the Book
Night Sky Between The Stars is Usha Kishore s second poetry collection, which encompasses the poet s pre-occupation with Indian womanhood and articulates her concerns on a marginalised gendered identity. Drawing heavily from Sanskrit verse and Indian myth, Kishore challenges patriarchal texts, renders new voices to female mythical characters and creates an alternative dimension for Indian womanhood. In metaphor and metonymy, in ekphrastic verse; in lyrical images of goddesses, women and the monsoons, the poet voices a determined diasporic engagement with the motherland. Night Sky Between The Stars is a shift of paradigm from accepted conventions of myth; it is the verse of an exile writing home; it is an epitome of what Kishore qualifies as L écriture feminine et indienne.
About the Author
Usha Kishore is an award winning, Indian born British poet and translator from the Sanskrit. Kishore s poetry has been published in journals in the UK, US, India, Ireland, Europe and Australia and has been anthologised by Macmillan, Hodder Wayland, Oxford University Press (all UK) and Harper Collins India. Kishore s poetry has won prizes in UK and Irish poetry competitions, has been part of international projects, and features in the British Primary and Indian Middle School Syllabus. Kishore s first collection, On Manannan s Isle, won an Isle of Man Arts Council Award and a Culture Vannin Award and was published in the UK in 2014 by dpdotcom. A book of translations from the Sanskrit, entitled Translations of the Divine Woman, is forthcoming from Rasala Books, India.