Book Reviews

Dynamics of Feminism

to Tame and Tackle Male-Chauvinism

Dr. Poonam Dwivedi’s Feminine Fragrance & Other Poems
Authorspress , New Delhi, Rs. 395.00

Feminism has become a wide area of serious and fashionable discussion and academic pursuit in the last almost half a century all over the world and has assumed great dimensions in academic, social, political, professional and legal circles and it fascinates everybody. Defining and explaining and exploring feminism and womanism and exposing the male chauvinism in dominating and dictating patriarchy taking up and dealing with the feminist issues and concerns in the historical, cultural, mythological, literary, psychological, biological, professional contexts and texts and the transformation in the pattern of everyday life and the social fabric have been engaging the full - throated religious and cultural attention and rhetoric of the experts, least - experts and no - experts, more in the recent past, though the evidence exists that the area had been a matter of concern in the distant past also at various levels with negligible headway. It cannot be disputed or debated that women have been subjected to cruel and callous treatment in life with disrespectful and disgraceful denial of the healthy and happy environment to women to express their mental, moral, intellectual and spiritual potential and personality for a harmonious and balanced growth of life in totality. However, whenever they took up cudgels and revolted against the male dominance and atrocious authority, they didn’t look back and set an example of their pursuit.

The Greek comedy writer, Aristophanes tells us in his comedy, Lysistrata, known to be the first work on how women succeeded in bringing about a social transformation by withholding sexual favours from their men and showing how women can achieve what men cannot by war. Large scale increase in feminine awareness and awakening today has led to the enthusiastic talk of Women Empowerment in the corridors of power and re - reading and re - interpreting the texts and contexts in religion, mythology, metaphysics, epics, history, cultural history and literary texts of men portraying and projecting women and the literary texts of women portraying male characters in female contexts. Here, it would be essential to reflect on the meaning and purpose of feminist issues pertaining to the freedom, dignity and respect of women in the worldwide stunning transformation of human life and society.

“Increasingly conscious of the barriers, the obstacles, the impediments, and the stumbling blocks that hindered woman from putting herself into the text of her own life, women writers and activists have taken upon themselves, often with pleasure, the onerous task of affirming that a woman is not a mere vehicle, a vessel, with no needs or desires of her own, and that she is well on her way to go out and snatch with both hands without the feeling of guilt or remorse.” - Dr. Nibir K. Ghosh (UGC Emeritus Professor & Senior Fulbright Fellow, University of Washington, Seattle, USA); the Chief Editor of the Internationally Referred Literary Research Journal, RE - MARKINGS, in his Preface to “Erasing Barricades: Woman in Indian Literature.

“It is impossible to define a feminist practice of writing and this is an impossibility that will remain, for this practice can never be theorized, enclosed, coded - which doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist.” - Helene Cixous: “The Laugh of Medusa”, Signs, 1 (1967)

“Feminist terrorism is a mirror image of machismo. Unregenerately separatist - men are the problem, so how could they possibly be part of the solution? - it offers the vicarious satisfactions of retaliation and reprisal in a war of the sexes for which the only acceptable end is unconditional surrender of all power to women.” - K.K. Ruthven: “Feminist Literary Studies: An Introduction” p10 Pub. by Cambridge Uni. Press, Reprint 1991.

“The principal problem posed by the emergence of feminist literary criticism is the pedagogical one. For the majority of people in the teaching profession this comes down to determining the best way of accommodating the discourse of feminism into the babble of heterogeneous discourses created by traditional voices vying with newer accents.”
- ibid

These are some deeply meaningful and wide reflections and directions of renowned authorities and scholars which are sure to help us in complete understanding of the dynamics of feminism used by Dr. Poonam Dwivedi in her great poetry collection, Feminine Fragrance & Other Poems, perhaps the first in the whole range of Indian English Poetry in which the poet’s absolute concern in all the fifty poems is with feministic issues before and today, even in Indian context. This is a full - throated song of feminism defining, exposing and exploring the fresh dimensions of “curves and contours” to launch a well - prepared full - scale invasion on the citadels of male - chauvinism. We are awakened to and further enlightened on feministic issues afflicting womankind like misogynistic, bigamy, polygamy, biandry, polyandry, gynocentric, androcentric, phallocratic etc. by the poet. We can understand that every attempt at feminist criticism results in fresh constructs in the genre.

Simon de Beauvoir’s aphorism comes to mind when she says - “one is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” Women are not inferior by Nature but inferiorized by Culture; they are acculturated into inferiority. That is how certain traditional assumptions are dismantled and new ones emerge for further reflection.

Dr. Poonam Dwivedi appears to be a rebel against all kinds of restrictions, restraints and impositions on the free and respectable expression of female personality by the male authority. While reading her Feminine Fragrance & Other Poems, she seems to be mostly personal in her resentment, anger and fierce grudge. Dr. Poonam is frank, honest , and bold in her convictions and initiative and has nothing to conceal. I am reminded of the first woman poet of the world, Sappho, and some other women in Greek Literature like Aspasia, Antigone etc. and even such bold and rebellious women from other literatures who fulfilled themselves when they tore asunder the shackles and fetters. It may be noted here that Dr. Poonam’s area of special interest is Criticism and poetry. So her present collection of poems is fine pointer to her intellectual leanings. These poems are Dr. Poonam’s sweeping winds blowing in her zealous feminism. How rebellious to liberate herself from the male dominance and unacceptable ruinous confinement of patriarchy to achieve respect, freedom, security and dignity to hold her head high in actual personal life she has been or is, is known only to her but there are clear hints in these poems of the poet’s radicalism to bestow fresh meaning and dimension to her view of feminism or womanism. Perhaps Poonam’s initiative is bold to add new dimensions and give a powerful direction to the existing course of feminism and feminist ideology in vogue in all enlightened and ill - lightened sections of society and in literature and literary criticism, even in professional, academic, political and legal citadels.

Dr. Poonam Dwivedi is among the younger generation of serious, hardworking, scholarly and brilliant creative and critical writers widening the perspectives of understanding life and literature. Poonam is well published as a critic, poet, book reviewer and editor with one poetry collection, two books criticism, more than three dozen research articles and much more and she has enviable literary associations. Her astonishing accomplishments help us to understand her powerful dynamics of feminism. Poonam’s Utopian dream of feminism - the woman as a goddess blessed with exciting, enticing and exotic beauty of body and mind, intellect and spirit, in certain respects handsomeness, flawless and impeccable far beyond the fancyland of gods, only to be adored and idolized with colourful and lyrical adulations by the male species. The title poem fully sets the readers’ mood and mind to understand and ensure to delight in what feminism means and what are its urgent demands for genius and empathetic consideration. The poet says:

“Sight of the virgin mount,
Sprinkle of cloud’s fount,
Dangling double plums,
Rocking with heaving hums.
Feminine fragrance emitting around,
Youthful jumping and laughter unbound,
No wealth, power and position could hound,
Life’s self - tuned dance on the cosmic sound.” - Feminine Fragrance

The poet asserts that nobody would have understood feminism if there were feminine fragrances. The poet sees the contrast in Nature to spurn ugliness:

“To be gracious, vivacious,
Sagacious to precious,
To be crafted, grafted
and treasured with passion.” - ibid

These are very deep and meaningful lines which reflect male mindset about the feminine fragrance for her role and fulfillment in human life. However, a strong desire to be liberated from the suffocating environment and breathe in the open fresh world for self - realization and self - gratification haunts her in the closing lines as a climax:

“Feminine fragrance not to be
bottled like jasmine,
Not to be feudalized to be
covered from top to toe,
Not to be idolized as
Winsome deity of the masculine,
But seldom to be adored as
the better - half in life’s discipline.” - ibid

This title poem transports us to the world of Shaharyade and Shaharyaar in The Arabian Nights or 1001 Tales.

The poet in the staunch feminist Dr. Poonam leads the reader into a charming world of fresh and diverse feminine fragrances by being drawn into the world of literature, especially poets, epics, religion, mythology and even everyday life. Charms of feminine graces and the delightful ecstasies they create are the unfading beauty and loveliness of feminine glamour, glow and gloom in glides and gaits and the contours and curves in some of the poems weave a spellbinding pattern. She says:

“Attractions are inhibited
in pranks feminine,
Exploitive and exhibited
In contours genuine,
Sweat of a woman sparks
in hilarious moments!
Fragrant fulfillment blossoms
on the dreary desert!” - Glamour & Glow poem 42

The Feminine Shrine and Curves and Contours are bold and daring poems in which the poet tells us how woman’s physical beauty and its maddening playfulness are deified and caressed for soul’s sexual delight; perhaps, the poet suggests that a woman is the best and the loveliest as an instrument of sexual desires. Man’s mad lust for the body and beauty of woman fascinates him to play with it, caress it and delight in the lavish gratification in woman’s fragrances which provoke such a situation for man. Such scenes have been truthfully captured and portrayed in literature and mythological literature defining woman as a celestial beauty for insatiate sensual and sexual pleasures. Here we think of Spenser, Keats, Pre - Raphaelites, Yeats, Lawrence and the stories of women in Greek mythology. The poet’s artistic frankness and honesty and subtlety earn her the qualification to be among all such mortals. She says:

“Usurp the whole in a raze - just to personalize,
To squeeze swells of woman to be called mine!
An eternal pilgrimage in feminine shrine!” - The Feminine Shrine poem 8

She gives a religious touch to it by describing the shrines of Gangotri and Yamanotri but” the cascades of copious woman in play/Cross the limitations of heavenly nymphs.” ( ibid) She concludes the poem in a soothing tranquil image:

“May be in literature or beyond the words of poets,
Eve’s narcissism narrates itself in Adam’s glances!” - ibid

The poet in Poonam weaves magic of feminine graces and fragrances with her tender poetic artistry using astonishingly apt words to paint her thoughts and emotions spiritedly. Moods and motions of a woman - the spell of her graces in exciting movements, deliberately and consciously, to attract and boost the male attention for their yearning and languishing and, finally, to kill in her trap:

“Feminine curves and contours,
Her crooks and cocky - looks,
Expand and disband masculine muscles,
Her cosmopolitan culture beats in solo heart,
Manly ocean heaves with her titillating parts!”
- Curves and Contours poem 9

Woman’s brooks spring and her snaky gait breaches all norms and -
“Sour grapes still fox the man to pounce on eaves!” - ibid

But the poet advises the Lord and the rich not to monopolize and personalize the beauty, cutie and the “divine pretty” and let not the golden tool and “the diamond studded tool to bristle -
“Feminism in woman’s hue and charming outpours!” - ibid

Dr Poonam intellectualizes the creation of woman as the enduring spring of all progress of man; his growth and rise to the level and height of Superman is rooted in feminism. The poet gives a religious, mythological and scientific explanation of the process of creation in the poem Ashtalakshmi To Narayani Namastute! She says:

“Compassion flows in female heart
like mountainous streams
Shailja’s story tells the tale
Eternal wedding of waters with earth.” - Poem 20

The poet genuinely feels that all divine traits remain ever present in the feminine personality as a result of which the earth and life sustain their Divine face until man’s hate campaign causes disharmony, ruin, discord, divisions and destruction. Even then, it is the Divine Love of a woman that restores the beauty, peace, harmony and the consistent march to progress. In Divine Love , perhaps a poem about the poet’s own love, the poet uses highly intoxicating and sensual imagery to give a convincing touch to synonymity of Love Divine and life divine:

“Two soul mates are riding cloud nine
sipping the ambrosia of wine
let there be no sunshine
no lightning they pine
no winds to disturb cloud craft of mine
You may call it Love Divine synonym of life divine.” - Poem 16

Not only this, here she expresses the force and fierceness of her love with the visual shaking and awe - inspiring images and sounds from the whole kingdom of Nature reminding us of Shelley. The poet says:

“My love is fierce like easterly winds
a wholesome rainy season
soaked in wet emotions
heaving like the oceanic waves
sounding like the eerie silence of forest
may not be tall like mounts
but certainly its natural in
emotive and evocative counts.” - ibid

Her love is the birth of Shelley’s Cloud and it blows like the West Wind! This love becomes the craving of a creeper, its curves and contours, for a solid support, not wedded to needles -

“Craving of creepers is enshrined in Nature,
To be a beautiful art crafted by Divinity!
To be venerated by the high and mighty alike,
In the images of pleasant and sublime Almighty!”

- Craving of a Creeper Poem 17

Then the flight of emotions moving forward in a flurry of fragrances burst in the feminine poesy as the poet tells us how the speed breaker reason leaves a trial of screeching in Emotions on Wheels. Intellectualization of emotions shall annihilate the beauty and grace of innocence, gifted decency of love; sense dawns upon the poet and she wants to escape far from the madding crowd of caprice and disputations as the boat of her pigmy self capsizes.. Poonam says:

“Intellectualism surfaces to take charge
Of problems plaguing my inners;
Rationalism crosses across cell - stems
Of façade inbuilt over years;

Buds of innovative thought sprout
To spread fragrance around my existence;….” - Tide of Emotions, Poem 10

My Rhythmic Pilgrimage and Romancing with the Writers are the finest pieces of amazing poetry by Poonam; and these two poems may be considered among the best in the whole range of Indian English Poetry. These reveal the poet’s scholarship and brilliant intellect showing themselves in spontaneous reminiscences that rejuvenate these lyrics. The poet’s ecstasy sets out on a pilgrimage into the ever - fresh vibrant and glorious regions where her soul transcends itself in romancing. My Rhythmic Pilgrimage is a sweet and soothing picturesque lyric of splendid pilgrimage in the beauty and love of poetry - a sense of enduring accomplishment and fulfillment, ennobling and elevating, to reach the trance in the celestial dreamland of versification where -

“I want to be cropped up and harvested
In your colourful imagination,
In my hallucination!”

This is a land of pure magic where Shelley, Keats, Yeats, Wordsworth, Eliot and Frost dwell with their music of soul. This is an amazing spiritual quest with and among the high - priests of Romanticism in literature. In this respect, Poonam stands in a class by herself. Moreover, Helenism seems to dominate the mind of the poet going mad at this. She has an insatiable desire , a yearning, to be projected as the creation and projections of these masters and genius of the past -

“Deeply enshrined in your hearts of hearts,
Renewing and rewriting rhymes
of the civilization for the civilization,
a pilgrimage sacrosanct sanctified,
Starting from head and reaching
The sea of heart diving deep for ever!”
- My Rhythmic Pilgrimage


However, it is in Romancing with the Writers, Poonam is at her best as a feminist scholar. This poem is one of the bestest, fine among the finest, ever written by a woman poet or, for that matter, by any Indian writer in English. Poonam’s escapades into the peaks of the romantic world of Shakespeare, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats, Yeats, Eliot, Frost, Virginia etc.. where her romancing soul flies, tumbles and dives deep, sighing and crying to see the Albatross, alive and dead, haunting the false and hypocritical modern contemporary civilization. This is “Literature incarnate - verbose personified.”The poet asks -

“Exchanging sensations of the centuries,
Am I romancing with the writers!”

Here, the poet is daintily blessed as she had an encounter -

“Shakespeare was smiling and said -
Good Luck Young Lady!”

These masters of the past also had to face and live through the disgusting and depressing and poignant conditions of life and the world didn’t treat them kindly. But they had courage and the gut and grit of resolution to hold “a mammoth mirror of tomorrow.” These people with a glorious vision of the future drown into the consciousness of the poet -

“without noticing my concern; the contemporary cries!”

The poet was highly motivated and inspired to fulfill herself -

“I marched forward with a grit of Excelsior…
Leaving all temptations like the Dame Sans Merci!”

Poonam’s collection of these poems on feminism is undoubtedly a unique poetic accomplishment wherein in most of the poems, she has romanticized the feministic issues by relying profoundly on world famous beautiful women from Greek and Roman mythology and literature. The retelling of these stories and their interpretation to study and understand the contemporary contexts and perspectives strongly emphasizing their continuity in daily human life is astonishing. The story of the Helen of Troy and its use by the dramatists and poets since ages has been a spellbinding fascination. Poonam says:

“The whole Greek and Roman myth is full of my list of suitors.”
- For You Helen

Helen is alive everywhere even today and her condition is not only pitiable, miserable and wretched but poignant. The poet in Poonam is painfully concerned with today’s Helen when she says -

“But Helen is still wandering alone
Hand in hand with her solitude in her serenity
Ages gone, Centuries past
No one came to rescue.” - For You Helen

The words “For you Helen” may reverberate in the female ears of all Helens! But Helen’s reply is not heard - “For you my love.” Here it may be pertinently observed that women stay afflicted with narcissism ; they are fond and mad with self - adoration, self - love and self - adulation; their only desire and yearning remain to be wanted, to be admired and to be loved for their physical beauty, loveliness, graces and charms. And wherever they meet such a situation, they become cautious, reflect and response. However, the use of the myth and story of Helen seems to be out of context. When Leda was raped, it was an act of sexal violence and the result of this union of the Divine with the human, the celestial with the temporal, the destructive power of beauty; it was the bringing together of the opposites - spirit and flesh, superhuman and human, the brute masculine force and feminine passivity, helplessness, creation and destruction. This act gave birth to two sisters by Leda - Helen and Clytemnestra. We know that Helen was responsible for the destructive Trojan War and the burning of the city of Troy whereas Clytemnestra was responsible for the murder of her husband, Agamemnon. Poonam , in her poetic zeal here, seems to have gone beyond. Well, her excellent poetic charm and her serious feminine concern of the betrayal of beauty in her love leading to her desertion are undeniable in this great picturesque poem on the fast - track.

The outcome for indulgent women has been frankly expressed by the poet in her poem The Martyrdom which is a poem on the curse and crime of foeticide in which who knows which enlightened being has been murdered into martyrdom. Fair sex is used everywhere for sexual pleasures by little emperors at home and big bosses at work places and she remains a living martyr as an instrument of sex only -

“The martyrdom of fair sex is unique -
Daily - death and daily conception of
Spirit to survive - an eternal commitment,
To achieve the martyrdom while alive!” - The Martyrdom

These poems convey a very powerful message and forceful vision to the women. Poonam’s feminism is not only suggestive but clearly expressive of her dynamics to tame and tackle the shackles and fetters of male - chauvinism. She conveys that once a woman begins to feel secure, free and enjoys respect and dignity, her personality and potential fully bloom into a charming glowing beauty and she experiences an enviable lasting fulfillment in personal, family, social and professional life.

There is another set of poems in this collection in which the poet deals with the ill - treatment, indignity, cruelty are unabashedly meted out to women and they are subjected to continuous endurance. There is no respect, decency, freedom, grace and security in their life. These are deeply touching and heart - rending poems of pity, pain and poignancy packed with a powerful message to awake the conscience of the reader to sweep such savage trash and dirt from human life by taming and tackling male chauvinism. These issues are further highlighted when we read about the crimes rising daily against women and reported in media and it is shocking to learn that a very large number of them remain unreported for one reason or the other. In her long poems on such unfortunate and painful burning issues in the so - called highly civilized and cultured society in which astonishing transformation has taken place in view of equally astonishing educational expansion and women empowerment. Even NRI crimes against women in marriage, even honeymoon brides, have taken a serious dimension. Poonam is deeply conscious of these feminine issues that require urgent attention and redressal; such cases must not keep piling and must be disposed of without unnecessary delay to ensure hope and much - needed relief. Professor Rajesh Gill, a staunch feminist advocate and activist from the Dept of Sociology, PU, Chandigarh, suggests that women be given reasonably good space in the decision - making bodies to help mitigate the sufferings and woes of women. These constant and consistent sufferings and woes of women in the patriarch - ruled society are fairly reflected in the poetry of Poonam. These long poems - When the Woman Shall Feel Secure? , Woman in the Life’s Circus, Am I Lovelorn or Lost in Some Affair?, Am I Overwhelmed Within - To Be You?, The Patriarchal Woman, The Rule of Law Set in Universalism!, Self - Choreography, Am I Independent?, From Cradle to Crafty Climb, Twins Fight Within, Spirituality in Sensuality, Matrimonial Alliance, Matrimonial Gift - are an honest, frank and straightforward depiction the pain, penury and plight of women in one or the other way. After reading these poems, the reader may feel the unchecked shame, deliberate sinfulness and senseless inhumanity of man against women!

When the Woman Shall Feel Secure? Is a deeply painful and heart - rending cry of the poet singing the deplorable conditions consciously created by the male - chauvinistic society making woman’s life a virtual hell. This plight evokes rhe readers’ empathy and the echo the lessage is clearly heard even from a distance. Today when the crime - graph against women is shamelessly rising, every attempt is made to silence the voice of protest and subvert the mens of justice by using every tact and pressure. Such a situation has further aggravated the insecurity of women. We are dead to all sense of slur or blot. The third stanza of the poem exposes this situation saying:

“To be a politician - libertarian,
wielding power, self - willed scepter,
A tyrannical bandit queen
of avenge - revenge syndrome,
a rape victim or trolled lamb
of animal kingdom,
an educationist teaching maxims…
the supremacy of rule of law,
A moralist lost in madness
Of philosophical ethics,
A light for the children……….”

- When The Woman Shall Feel Secure?

The poet concludes in a state of complete helplessness -

“Let the dewdrops of feminism
quench the parched earth’s thirst” - ibid

in Woman in Life’s Circus, we see her”Bewildered, perplexed, puzzled/to solve the life’s riddle.” The cradle of this destiny’s child is violently rocked by winds and she yearns to live a life afresh in fantastic colours bouncing and vibrant tumbling like a cut - off kite, lost in reminiscences -

“Oh! Lost enough to find you at last,
my love’s lord!”

But reduced to ”rest of the rust”:
“For those who still hunt, haunt and rant,
To grab the dangled lot of my dreamy world,
Oh! Lost enough to find you at last, my love’s lord!”
- Woman in Life’s Circus

Such agony and anguish of the bruised psyche, wounded body and broken heart continue in other poems also ; the woman is flaming in macrocosm with the rhythm of beauty, love and passion. Intellectualization of emotional strain is visible in tempestuous rhythm:

“You are my intoxication, my gratification,
Before you, my complete surrender - dedication,
You are my avowed end of life - my liberation,
You are in body pores - in every particle of creation,
Am I overwhelmed within - to be you?”

The last line is the burden of the poem Am I Overwhelmed Within - To Be You? All entreaties and beseeches are futile to ensure fulfillment -

“You are absolute in me - myself in you,
You are my universe - void - rainbow sky limitless,
I am an eagle to soar your domain and dominance,
Encyclopedia may fall short to enlist your prominence,
May my reading - writing - citing - be able to provide credence,
Am I overwhelmed within - to be you! Only you!”
- Am I Overwhelmed Within – To Be You?

The Patriarchal Woman feels constrained to define “the contours of female civility/ Piety and politics of Puritanism” and the basic female decencies, ever caring and cooperative and supportive in extreme distress and misery had to be upheld and sustained. She revolts against all male dictates to enslave her in a calculated manner and move fail as she settles all the dust storms by her most precious gift - “The perennial shower of love and affection.” No fleecing and whipping with drudgery, the domesticated beast of burden! Dr. Poonam suggests invariably that masquerading protectionism is indispensable to feminism. The Rule of Law Set in Universalism! is, indeed, a masterstroke of severe poetic denunciation of the autocracy of male - chauvinism by the zealous feminist poet in Poonam. The whole of this long poem is an angry and resentful expression of the woman who is suffering relentlessly in sickening and cruel and asphyxiating atmosphere. The violent and challenging opening captures and engages our attention and this continues till the end like hammer strokes -

“Dissatisfaction! Dissatisfaction!
Dissatisfaction for what?
For unguided, Ucontrolled,
Undisciplined Soul!” - The Rule of Law Set in Universalism!

There is chaos, Tsunami’s shoreless roar, senseless furor, the world and the system flummoxed, snatching and crouching the rights of others, over - stepping authorities, pretending to be master of all the mthods and mannerisms…..there is much much morein these thunders and lightning! The poet’s poetic frenzy envelopes a lot to generalize and predict the emergence and shaping up of a new generation of civilization and incarnation, of course by the SHE - SHAKTI! The poet says breathlessly -

“Life breathes its last,
Centuries elapse,
Civilizations fade away,
Everything has its expiry date,
But the energy of the Mind
Moves Around…
It shapes, reshapes new gfenerations
Produces, reproduces in the incarnation……..
Kudos to the Soul on the right path…… - ibid

The poem ends on a note of strong prophecy for reprisal, revenge and vengeance when there would be not only a complete overhaul of the system but new system ensuring golden era of peace, justice, freedom, dignity, love and harmonious growth shall be ushered in. A close reading leads to a compelling conclusion that all males are really so autocratic, cruel, callous, imposing and absolutely inconsiderate and irresponsible to the tenderness, delicacy and decency of females and show total disregard for the freedom, dignity, security, virtue, love and happiness of women. Is there no collective responsibility to make life a garden and orchard of beauty, peace, harmonious growth and loving care? Why assume so much to ignore human limitations enthusiastically for sheer zeal of the zealot? This is a dream, a vision, galloping aspirations and ambitions and hullabaloo of the mad striving and struggle for a Utopia! Poems like Twins Fight Within, Spirituality in Sensuality, Matrimonial Alliance, Matrimonial Gift tell us that marriage is no longer a sacred bond of two souls, cordial relations of the families as unchecked greed and temptations, clashes and conflicts, soaring material aspirations and maneuverings, egoistic assertions, dowry demands etc. are responsible for marital discord and breaking of marriages. Honest Feeling of love, trust, friendship, honest communication alone maintain and sustain healthy and happy married life. Complete rationalization is not possible and assails and assaults such lasting harmony.the poet expresses a very strong yearning when she says -

“Let the hundred blossoms bloom
with varied hues,
Let me have one personality
of my own to boast,
Let there be flicker of peace
shredding from the lamp post.” - Twins Fight Within

Poonam rues the inherent prejudices in the sensibility of existence and feels that this is a moral decadence. Movements and revolutions have elapsed into time; highly disgusting and ruinous impact of patriarchy still works. Women’s Lib movements could effect cosmetic changes only. She says -

“Ruins could not rein in the dogmatic..
Gender brings up gender to be absolute,
Male is male - female is taught from the infancy,
To play second fiddle is the fate bereft of any fancy…”
- Matrimonial Alliance

This poem ends on a note of optimism with a loud message for a healthy and radical transformation in the rot of marital alliance -

“The first teacher to man
with her sagacity may rise,
The earth - incarnate may revolt
And rein in the male - toddler,
To be raised not as the feudal lord
but a modest sensitive partner.” - ibid

Human spirit and spirituality, sensual arousal and sexuality are religiously tied to the dogmatic rituals. It is impossible to tame such traditions and tendencies which defy reason and deify blind pursuit. Poonam is conscious of the need for a harmonious married life and suggests solutions also to beat the essentially insignificant existential issues. Poonam’s feministic views in poetic expressions have deep roots in the philosophy of criticism as propounded by the masters, ancient and modern, though her contradictions and contraventions clearly exist in her stormy thought process tumbling and diving in the tempest of emotions but tranquil and poised mind shows the light. In her poem Decoding Poetics , the poet has shown the light of sagacity and missionary vision in which she is humble to the core of her being, submits to the judicious view and wise judgment of her readers saying that as a poet, her emotions, a vortex, have ventured loose at an impulsive moment -

“It may be the notional outburst not controlled in - tact!”

She makes an honest appeal to her readers to fairly and rightly catch her ideas and read her mind and is hopeful that they would be able to decode her mind. And feel the ecstasy of her emotional poetics:

“The objective thematic and subjective aesthetics,
The ultimate catharsis climbing in my verses,
To define me, decode me, dig me, draw me and drag me!”

These lines reveal and portray Poonam as the finest feminine gifted with the best of a woman., though , at times, there is a feeling that Poonam wears dark glasses on a cloudy day and sees everything darker than actually it is! Even the silvery white clouds seen occasionally behind the floating stray dark clouds lose their sheen and dazzle. Quite natural! Hence the complaining attitude that it is all haunting and hurting dark wherein her rebellious self is struggling for a victory in the battle, a war and the noise of belligerency is deafening.

The poetic style and craftsmanship of the poet in these poems deserve a special mention. Poonam, being a brilliant scholar known for her creativity, uses consciously and unconsciously thoughts from the ancient and modern works of literature, Greek and Roman and Indian mythology and religion, in these poems. Her language is highly imagistic and she weaves and exhales magical hues and magical tunes. She is excellent at creating a spell of rhythmic music and words come naturally to her in their resonance and resounding flow merging in the soothing tones and tunes in her poetry. Since these poems are a forceful dynamics to invade and bombard the citadels of patriarchy, her style becomes heavy and loaded; the words in battle formation march and fly like missiles and bomber planes to hit the target. We do hear the sounds of the roars and the general in the poet succeeds in her mission of feministic triumph. At times, there is a symbolic expression of female desires, and yearnings for a life of freedom, dignity and security for self - expression, self - gratification and self - fulfillment. It is undeniable that this poetry collection forms a dynamic study in what ails and fails and tails feminism.

It is hoped that it will be a readers’ delight for further light on the area frantically enlightened.

Happy reading!


1. Dwivedi, Dr. Poonam : Feminine Fragrance & Other Poems (Manuscript);
2. Ruthven, K. K: Feminist Literary Studies: An Introduction, published by Cambridge University Press, Great Britain, Reprinted 1991;
3. Morgan, Elaine: The Descent of Woman, The Classic Study of Evolution; pub. by Souvenir Press, Great Britain, Reprinted 1998;
4. Ghosh, Dr. Nibir K et all: Erasing Barricades: Woman in Indian Literature, pub by Authorspress, New Delhi, 2010;
5. Jain, Jasbir (Edited): Women’s Writing, Text and Context; Second Ed. Pub. by Rawat Publications, Jaipur, Reprinted 2004;
6. Fowler, Roger (Ed.): A Dictionary of Modern Critical Terms, pub. by Routledge, London, Reprinted in India in 2005 by Gopsons Papers, Noida


More by :  Prof. R. K. Bhushan

Top | Book Reviews

Views: 3543      Comments: 2

Comment Wonderful. Such a review only you can write. It is in depth understanding of literature, expressions and existing scenerio around. It is detailed appreciation and critical analysis and literary appreciation.

K.K. Sabharwalkksabharwal
27-Feb-2024 22:15 PM

Comment What fine review by Prof. R.K. bhushan of Poonam’s poetry, sprinkled with sallies of wit and profound analysis of the feminine graces so poetically portrayed in numerous verses!

T S Anand
27-Feb-2024 21:19 PM

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