Saturday, 8 January 2011

Personal Poems of an Islamic Woman Poet

- K.S. SIVAKUMARAN (Srilanka)

In Lankan Thamil Literature there are only a handful of women poets. Among them is a poet from Sainthamaruthu in the East. Her name is Issath Rehana Mohamed Azeem, but she is known in the literary circles as "Anar". Her first collection of poems titled Oaviyam Varaiatha Thoorikai (A Brush that couldn't Draw) won the Sahitya Award in and the North-East Provincial Ministry's Sahitya Award in 2005.

The present collection of 31 poems is titled Enakku Kavithai Muham (A Poetic Face is for Me) is published by the reputed by the publishers of selective writing –Kalachuvadu Publishers in Nagarcoil in Thamilnadu. The book is also available from the author at 542 B, Gaffoor Street, Sainthamaruthu -16. Anar is in the mid-thirties and has a family.

The poems in this collection were earlier published in Little Magazines and in one newspaper: Moontravathu Manithan (now defunct), Virakesari, Sari Nihar, Maruha, Pravaaham, Uyirmai, Dalit, Kunkumam, Oodaru, Vaiharai, Ulaga Thamil and Kaala Chuvadu. These journals are from Lanka, Thamilnadu and Europe.

A leading Lankan poet in Thamil and an academic (now in Toronto, Canada), R. Cheran, has written a foreword for this collection. As he says, Anar has brought in new faces to Lankan Thamil poetry. She is undoubtedly a very talented poet from the East. She is different from many other poets of her age in capturing her deep most inner feelings on scenes around her closed environment. Her Personal Poems are also an implicit commentary on the social issues of the country.

What is striking in her creations are her capacity to turn out entirely new ways of expressions and her mastery of the language and interpretation with newly-coined phrases. In that sense she has brought freshness to Lankan Thamil Contemporary Poetry.

I think Cheran has beautifully discerned the content of her poems and analyzed it. Readers in Thamil well may read it for their benefit. For my part, I shall only show how she manages the language in her pleasingly written poems. This I can do by rendering some of her lines into English. As we all know translation of poetry into another language is not easy and liable to be 'lost in translation'. However let's try – the easiest first.

Naan Penn (I am a Woman)

A Wild Stream
A Massive Waterfall
A Deep Sea
An Incessant Rain
I'm Water
Blackened Rocky Mountain
A Greenish Space of Field
A Seed
A Jungle
I'm Land
Body's Time
Heart Wind
Eyes Fire
I'm sky
I'm Universe
What Boundaries for Me
I'm Nature
I'm Woman


Thanal Nadhi (A River of Ember)

Lusty feelings crawled polished
Like the waves of cool winds
That proceeds before the rain
Biting the lips mischievously
In this night that swirls around
Press a kiss (on me)
Let the jungle of life burn out
In between the eyelids
Teardrops gush out dryly
The burning embers of sorrow
This bitterness
In the wind driving the clouds
Would the tidal waves that slashes
Continue to roar and hassle
Unable to cross over
The night hangs before me
Like a river of ember


Araikku Veliyae Alaiyum Urakkam (Sleep wandering outside the Room)

Folding the clothes I
Arranged them in the wardrobe
Dimmed the room lights
Straightened the bedspread
Joined two pillows side by side
Wore a loose nightgown
Before my thirst stood the poisoned night's ale
My sleep wanders outside the room
With dreams of different tastes


Penn Bali (Woman Slaughter)

It's a Battle Front
A convenient Laboratory
Everlasting Storehouse
Permanent Prison
It's a Slaughter Slat
It's a Woman's Body
The heart weeps
The life pulse
Same for both genders
Yet, no respect because it is a woman's
Murdering me
Happens in front of me

Readers would have noticed that I had chosen only those poems that speak about the confinement of rural women in solitary boundaries. There is an implicit statement of feminist ideas without being feminist. But she had written about the horrors of war and the eluding peace as well.

In Thamil, her use of language is astonishingly fresh. And the treatment of the content is understandable when the poet is from an orthodox Islamic family. One congratulates her for outspoken reality as felt by the womankind.

I enjoyed reading her.

( Daily News - Artscope : June 11, 2008 )

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