The unpublished book, Femininity – Women Marching Ahead: Poems with Passionate Femininity, has eight chapters on the young, less known women poets. In his forward to the book, Prof. Rama Rao states the premise of this book: “There are great poets among the fair sex who are adherents to the concept of and faith to femininity. Unfortunately they are not brought to the lime light they richly merit and deserve.” In this book, the critic has studied the poetry of Pankajam, Bhagyalakshmi, Padmapriya, Shernaz Wadia and Avril Meallem, Preeta Chandran’s and Pankaj Kumar, Indira Babbellapati, Sukrita Paul Kumar, and Chita Lele to show their merits to the readers and critics of Indian English poetry.
In ‘Exemplar of Humanism and Femininity: A Study of Pankajam’s Poetry’, the critic explores Pankajam’s second book of poetry, Echoes (2009), that contains seventy-two poems. For him, “The merit of Pankajam’s poems is in their simplicity and most of the time she makes her reader a listener listening to her intimate personal feelings trusting that the reader loves to listen to the poet’s feelings and experiences with affectionate concern. There is humour and good understanding in human weaknesses too.” The poem, ‘Sum and Substance’, “is a little compendium of feministic tribulations, the small beauties and pleasantly laughable situations in the actuality of a modern woman’s life in our country. The poet ranks high in the domain of women’s poetry,” observes the critic.
Dr. Rao explores Bhagyalakshmi’s poetry, in the second chapter, from the perspective of anger, devotion and femininity.Her four books: Happiness Unbound (1998), A Knock at the Door (2004), When Fortune Smiles (2007), and Missing Woods (2014) are the centre of this study. “Happiness Unbound is of a special kind which displays deep femininity replete with pain and forbearance with a deep and wide understanding of the human condition, particularly of the fair sex” (25). As per the critic, Bhagyalakshmi, in this collection, makes her poetic “predilections and prowess evident”. She expresses her feelings of devoutness to the Supreme Being and forbearance of all suffering caused by a perpetrator - the Man. The poet’s second collection, A Knock at the Door, is more intensely a manifestation of her poetic imagination which reflects the poet’s inner self. She “writes thought-provoking poetry with strong feelings of distress about the nullification of women. She is strengthened by her implicit faith in God”, opines Dr Rao. Her third collection, When Fortune Smiled, displays a process of crystallization and maturation. “She thinks of male mentality and feminine helplessness which cause anguish and distress.”
Padmapriya’s Poetry forms the third chapter of this book. She started writing at the age of seven and has three volumes, Great Heights (2003), The Glittering Galaxy (2005), and Galaxy (2011), to her credit. After having interpreted all her poems, the critic comments about her poetry: “Faith is God-given. Faith can be born and inspired as poetic imagination too. Poetic, imaginative expression, like poetic expression is also God-given. Padmapriya is a blessed one.” Her use of proverbs, maxims, witticisms and idioms illustrate her poetic imagination. Nature is the basic theme in The Glittering Galaxy. Her poetry is heart-warming with youthful faith in goodness and virtue. Here is a young poet who deserves the attention of contemporary critics.
Fourth chapter is on the poetry of Shernaz Wadia and Avril Meallem. They belong to two nations; have different faiths, and professions. The first is a Briton, shifted to Israel, a Hebrew by faith and a therapist by profession. The second is an Indian, a Parsee and Zoroastrian by faith, a primary school teacher by profession. Their themes are natural everyday ones: trees, flowers, rain, river, sound, silence, light, shadow, illusion, hatred, hope, understanding and peace. Their poems display the basic feminine tenets. In their book, they work together in harmony of understanding and the resultant work of art is a delight to look at and appreciate their work. “The two must have spent days in constant innovation, creativity and imaginative exuberance though living thousands of miles apart”, observes the critic.
Preeta Chandran’s and Pankaj Kumar’s book is a combined work of fifty poems and fifty paintings in various genres ranging from Oil on Canvas, Watercolor on paper, Acrylic, Pastel & Watercolor on paper, Mix Media, and Watercolor & Pastels on paper, along with poems, the poet and the painter sharing of the imaginative and expressive approaches. “The book is a brave and brilliant beginning of a new era of combined and cumulative art”, writes the critic. The critic informs the readers about the arrangements of poems and paintings in the book: “The poems on the right and the corresponding pictures on the left page taking us into the mundane to the magnificent are delectable handwork with pulsating artistic imagination and poetic output.” The critic concludes that “The poet, and the painter—Preeta and Pankaj Kumar—vied with each other to scale the high peaks of achievement bringing the best before the appreciative eyes of the viewer and reader.” The critic calls this work a “Brave and Brilliant Beginning”.
Dr Rama Rao evaluates Indira Babbellapati’s poetry in the next chapter. She is an academician with a deeply sensitive thinking and powerful expression. She has published four books till 2015. The poet, according to the critic, “performed the electrifying and edifying function of the educated, employed, forward looking and responsible urban woman in understanding and expressing sympathy for women, now called fashionably second sex in preference to the earlier appellation, fair sex. Her stance is the upright fervour to awaken and improve male sensibility.”
The penultimate chapter is about the poetry of Sukrita, a daughter of reputed writer and painter. She is both poet and painter. “Reading her poetry needs our hearts in the right place”, says the critic. He further observes: “Her poetry is inward-looking, searching for the shores, looking up at the sky and losing one’s self in thought.” The reader is further told that some “of the poems take a little time and careful study to understand and appreciate. … Sukrita’s paintings, like her poems, need quite long spells of time to look deep to take a glimpse of her personality. The best way to peep into her mind is to spend hours looking at the painting and guessing the nuances of her imagination.” Her poems live long in the soft and gently perceptive minds. In this chapter, the critic finds compassion, delicacy, devotion and femininity as the hallmarks of Sukrita Paul Kumar’s poetry.
About the poetry of Chitra Lele, the critic comments: “This poet is young but her thoughts and words are great.” The present article is about her book which has five parts. The first part is Mother Nature’s Miracles. The second part, Beyond Borders, is about the sublime ideal–about the world as one single family. The third part, Sacred Sanctum, advises the readers to “Experience new flavours of the inner essence.” The fourth part, Treasure Mines of the Mind is anchored on the belief that “only through realms of the mind the treasures can be dug.” The fifth part, Live Life with a High Five, implies that life is the sum total of all its ups and downs, and joys and sorrows. The critic ends this chapter with the remark: “Chitra Lele’s poems are illuminating, inspiring, faith giving and devotion sustaining. This book is for the people of serene and sublime thinking and high living.”
Prof. VVB Rama Rao, a widely renowned critic, deserves accolades for bringing out a book on the less known women poets of our age. This book not only makes these women poets a face in the crowd, but will also inspire critics to focus attention on their books; they are young, illuminating, sensitive, compassionate, simple, and display feministic tribulations; they write about understanding the ways of life, have warmth and youthful faith in goodness and virtue, and thoughtfully posit new endeavour. This book is, for sure, a guiding light on these poets. My best wishes to these poets and the critic alike. I hope the poetry of these poets will soon find favour with the contemporary critics.