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Review by Michelle Reale
It is always interesting when a novelist makes the jump from fiction to verse. Anita Nair has done just that with her collection of poems titled Malabar Mind. She brings the same talents to her poetry that exemplify her fiction: a strong sense of place and an aura of both the mysterious and the mundane. In an age when the inscrutability of poetry has has been both norm and fashion, Nair constructs poetry that is accessible without being simple and complex without being obscure. While the poems can be said to be rooted in place, indeed, Malabar is the theme here, the images often transcend the physical landscape and quite often make the transition into the metaphysical as well. She spares
almost no subject here and every thing from lust and feminism to ritual is covered. The poems range over both the ancient and the contemporary.
In the title poem, Nair evokes a sense of Malabar by intoning the many names it has been called by over the centuries, giving the poem an almost mantra-like sound , reinforcing the timelessness of the landscape and what might be found
Michelle Reale, a librarian, is devoted to the study and research of South Asian literature and poetry.
Where the rain hisses
Echoes of a thousand footsteps
Each seeking to measure the girth of wetness
Eaves drip countless forsaken thoughts
Tiles splay revealing parted rafter thighs.
She adds as a note at the end of the poem : Malabar was once a British district. After Independence Malabar as a district was no longer recognized and the region was divided to form the northern part of what is today called Kerala. Though
Malabar has no geographical boundaries, no presence on a map of India, it still
exists as a state of mind.
This is a unique collection written over a period of ten years and is a beautiful testament to the rich and colorful culture that South India has come to be known for.
Raking up the everyday. Review from the Hindu.
More about Anita Nair