Poetic Credo of Rukmini Bhaya Nair: A Desire for New Poetics

Poetic Credo of Rukmini Bhaya Nair: A Desire for New Poeticss

The modern-day Indian women’s poesy stands at the interface of mostly two issues—the need for higher visibleness onto the planetary poetic infinite every bit good as the Third World Literatures and an urgency to originate and develop a women’s poetic theoretical tradition in order to highlight the poets of the present as good past in a formal construction of Women’s poesy. The present coevals of adult females poets which includes Eunice De Souza, Imtiaz Dharkar, Meena Alexander, Seeme Qasim, Smita Aggarwal, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Menka Shivdesani, Tanya Mendonsa, to call a few, circumscribe and hem within the confines of Post-colonial Feminist concerns, except for Rukmini Bhaya Nair, who brought in the post-modern craft-ship and extremist subjects, merger of topics, genres, eras non antecedently deemed tantrum for women’s poesy in India. The paper attempts to research the insufficiency and demand for ‘New Poetics’ , based on the theoretical maxims of Nair locating it within her poetic work.

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Poetic Credo of Rukmini Bhaya Nair: A Desire for New Poeticss

What’s a verse form?

A verse form is a animal, a furry, tawny animal in a coop of words. It is a wild muss of scratchs and lines and rough talon abrasions on paper. ( The Return of Ariel,Mad Girl’s love Song( 3 )

The primary drift for this paper occurred due to an inadvertent literary brush, when I was slackly inspecting one of the treatises by the modern-day American poet, Anne Finch, in herThe Body of Poetry: Essaies on Women, Form and the Poetic Self, wherein she argues about the deficiency of the tradition of ‘poetic theory’ for American Women’s poesy, as the modern-day adult females poets could barely tout of an equal literary-cum-poetic family tree. These trenches are every bit seeable in the terra firma of Contemporary Indian English Poetry, where adult females poets composing in English, though, have been important stimulations to map and fecundify the poetic landscape of Indian English, but are regarded inconspicuously. This homogenisation to the parental/patriarchal categorizationIndian English Poetryfoliages reductionist constructions/spaces, a undertaking utterly prevalent presents in political, scientific, pedagogical and educational domains. In fact, the terminology,Indian Women’s Poetryhas non even found its portion of legibility onto the popular hunt engines Google and Wikipedia yet except for being anthologized and examined inPurdah— An Anthology, by Eunice De Souza ;Nine Indian Women Poets: AnAnthology, by Eunice De Souza or ;Poems at the Edge of Differences: Mothering in New English Poetry by Women, by Renate Papke, to admit a few. Dr. K. V. Raghupati, who in a recent National Seminar on Women poets Indian English Poetry stated, “ Poetry by adult females in post-colonial times, has organically responded to the Indian state of affairs by raising inquiries related to self, individuality, patriarchate, political and societal consciousness. But visibleness however remains a cause of concern, non merely for the regional adult females poets but besides for their Indian English counterparts.” ( Shivdasani ) It is at such a occasion, when Indian women’s poesy is either is limited to anthologies, public/private poesy Sessionss, Mushairas etc. that Rukmini Bhaya Nair emerges every bit lyrical rebel of post-modern poesy, raising above the bromidic sentimentalism, sporadically associated with feminism and women’s poesy ; waving a new paradigmatic displacement of signifier, by researching unusual techniques, bantering looks, complex gaiety with western poetic theories scaffold-ed on serious and contemporary subjects. If Rushdie’sMidnight’s Childrenpitchforks Indian English fiction into the planetary motion of Postmodernism, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to see Bhaya Nair’s oeuvre a work marking Post-modern poesy ( besides asserted famously, by poet and critic Keki N Daruwalla ) , which needs a serious consideration and battle in the Indian academic circles. This paper would analyze the two crucial/critical pointers/persuasions suggested through Nair’s poesy:

1. ) The poetic creed defined and conceptualized by the poet, its applicability, pertinence and aims, analyzed in the visible radiation of the poetic extracts, a intimation to step in and busy the mainstream poetic infinites and the eventful critical discourses.

2. ) Based on her poetic maxims and surmises the demand for meaning i.e. a signal to name for a women’s poetic theory tradition that can infix the poets of the yesteryear, both pre/ station independency, and modern-day within the groundwork/body of poetic theories and non as random ecstatic jaunts but as perpetually engaged lyrical aces.


I see the poet’s function, whether adult male or adult female, as being one in which s/heroutinelyengages in Acts of the Apostless of break. ( “Language Without a Safety Internet: The Enigma and Excitement of Poetry A conversation with Rukmini Bhaya Nair, 343 )

Nair’s poetry aggregation, apart from the academic prose,The Hyoid Bone( 1992 ) ,The Ayodhya Cantos( 1999 ) ,Yellow Hibiscus( 2004 ) , sequester itself from the mainstream/ customary patterns of non merely the male poets but female poets every bit good. But, it is non to state that she writes antithetical/ contrastive/ diametrical opposition to the male poets or her co-workers, instead she niches a differing poetic parlance which is non hostile, sole to the traditional yesteryear and non separated, sharpened articulation of dissent and non clannish, stylistically experimental and non pretentious. The rich tapestry of her poems travels cross-continents: from Red-fort to U.S, Partition to 9/11 ; across sublime to popular civilization: from computing machines to cockroaches, Cambridge to cattles, from Lord Shiva to Stephen Hawkings, Sumo Wrestlers to national fable of “Ayodhya Cantos” , Sanskrit shlokas to Haiku history, from serious sloganeering to Bollywood glitterati etc. Therefore, theiconoclasmof her poetic kingdom is independent of the already sanctioned, conventional stock of metaphors, images and fables. In the affairs of signifier and content, she retains the eternity of the tradition and temporal-ness of the modern-day, the best case, possibly being of the “Cantos” written in the wake of Babri Masjid destruction inThe Ayodhya Cantosand captions it into the period appellation of post-modern poetics.In this sense, she seemingly inclines more towards Eliot’s dictum, “ . . . the historical sense involves a perceptual experience, non merely of the pastness of the past, but of its presence ; the historical sense compels a adult male to compose non simply with his ain coevals in his castanetss, but with a feeling that the whole of a literature of Europe from Homer and within the whole of the literature of his ain state has a coincident being and composes a coincident order.” (Tradition and Individual Talent )In the “Cantos” , for the structural scheme and cleavage she relies to a great extent upon the fabulous characters and figments of Ramayana, Dante’sDivine Comedyand Spenser’sFaire Queen(The Ayodhya Cantos,Author’s Note, 3 ) and yokes it with the Babri Masjid devastation episode. Nair defines her poetic creed and the map of the verse form as:

I think ideally a verse form should offer three things. First, a verse form should ever incorporate an mystery or mystifier, some ambivalency, something that is unsolved either in content, significance or in rhthym. . . The 2nd component is, since a poem trades with linguistic communication, it should demo linguistic communication turning back upon itself, a recursive motion of linguistic communication. A poem uses linguistic communication to make its ain mystery as it deal with the materiality of the linguistic communication, and linguistic communication becomes the medium to inquiry linguistic communication. . . Finally, the 3rd component that poesy must hold is to be ‘high’ on what I call a ‘quotability index’ ( “Language Without a Safety Internet: The Enigma and Excitement of Poetry A conversation with Rukmini Bhaya Nair, 323-324 )

The poetic signifier, daring in nature appears every bit rebellious, see, for illustration the experimental manner of signifier, be it the epigraph ofThe Yellow Hibiscus,the merger of lingual and poetic in the “Language Lessons.”

*Language Lessons I*Related Reading

Syntax is brittleChomksy ( 1965,

Made of Frangible Bone1972, 1984, 1991, etc. )

Articulated like a dinosaurWittegenstein ( 1953, 1974 )

Earth movesCarnap, Russell ( 1959 )

When sentence flicks its tailPanini ( c.5Thursdaycentury ) . . .

Or the run-on enjambed words as a device in “Genderrole” :





The “Language Lessons” , examines the poet’s battle with the drama of sentence structure, semantics with zesty and fresh metaphors. The “ Genderrole” , when read with intermission and unsnarling of sentence structure, visually refers to the release of non merely the hegemonic, patriarchal outlooks from the gender and female organic structures but besides the conventional, stiff regulations of grammar and sentence structure, both at the custodies of work forces. It “breaks the Torahs of a linguistic communication censored by grammar and semantics, and at the same clip, is a societal and political protest” , as stated by Gallic linguist Julia Kristeva inRevolution in Poetic Language( 1974 )

The Rebel in the poetic signifier, correspondent to the ancient pattern of composing on thenar foliage in Sanskrit, with the elusive apposition of Sanskrit and female ( the linguistic communication with its shlokas and the female organic structure harmonizing to prescribed behaviour ) , non merely questions/ rummages through the phallocentric domination of work forces over female bodies/ scriptures/ epistemology but every bit invokes Derrida’s thought that “words merely have significances by virtuousness of their differences from other words, and that this distinction takes topographic points in the spreads or infinites between them.” ( Shankar )

It is the pick of her poetic signifier, contrary to the established poetic constructions, much against the refined, graceful and complacent, entirely post-modernist in the Indian context, which asserts her an ingeniously advanced adult female poet.


Anne Finch, in “Female Tradition as Feminist Innovation” ( 2005 ) says:

The historical job is that modern-day adult females poets do non hold a long powerful female tradition to arise against. The lone women’s poetic tradition that has been influential during our century is the free-verse tradition that followed on Modernism. . . Women poets who are drawn to tangible constructions and who identify with female traditions must look away the hunt for our foremothers. Writing in signifier is for us non a affair of traveling back to the past, re-asserting an antediluvian power, meekly steping on district already claimed by Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton and Wordsworth.”

Matching to what Finch elaborates on, Indian women’s poetic scenario faces a similar quandary. But being a non-conformist ; a denouncer of conventional substances and subjects of mushy sentiments, maternity exposures, domesticities and jobs of married womans etc. it is Nair’s effort to make full in the crevices of poetics, “a converting organic structure of ( poetic ) theory for modern-day women’s composing in from, or for the modern-day readers to re-evaluate some of the demonized facets of the mostly female poetic tradition” , ( Finch ) that Finch calls the “sentimental” tradition, that Nair addresses through her poesy.

The paper becomes all the more critical peculiarly because there rides a high misconstrued finding of fact about Nair’s poesy of being ‘incomprehensible’ , ‘intellectually rigorous’ ( Vij,84 ) and ‘cerebral’ popularly proclaimed in academic corridors across the sub-continent. At this, Nair raises a serious yet polar inquiry and says:

. . . I think intellectual here is meant as a unfavorable judgment. It does non intend ‘you have been believing about these things deeply’ but instead that the emotional content is non coming through. I think this unfavorable judgment is non frequently made of work forces! You will non happen male composing being described as intellectual. Now why is this the instance? I think this is because there already a pre-conception about what is expected of a adult female. You are expected to show your feelings upfront. For me, composingdoescome from bosom ; it is non merely an rational exercising, yet it is perceived as so.” ( “Language Without a Safety Internet: The Enigma and Excitement of Poetry A conversation with Rukmini Bhaya Nair 337 )

While the Indian male poets barely address and engross in poetry asfathers/ husbands/ brothers/employees, it is expected of every bit good as dominates the poetic ventures of adult females poets. For Nair, as an image-breaker, the peculiar concerns of maternity, married womans, sisters/caretakers etc. pigeonholed as ‘feminist’ issues per se fill the poetic canvas besides, but in the most sagacious and bizarre signifier and non in the archetypal women’s rightist, classical parlance. Her desire for making a formal poetics of women’s poetic tradition, every bit good as come ining into the tough and intellectual zones of complex strands of mythologies, political relations, linguistics, cognitive psychological science and literary theories etc, is tangible when she says, “In hereafter I would wish adult females to hold entree non merely to the ‘interruptive spaces’ of poesy, but besides to the ‘epic spaces’ of narration in which they can exhibit their ‘dance of seven veils.” ( 339 )

Work Cited

Finch, Annie Ridley Cane.The Body of Poetry: Essaies on Women, Form, and the poetic ego.Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2005.Undertaking Muse.Web.27 Feb. 2015. & A ; lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // muse.jhu.edu/ & A ; gt ;

Kellman, G. “Summary.”Masterpieces of American Literature.eNotes.com. Web.27 Feb.2015. & A ; lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // www.enotes.com/topics/tadition-individual -talent # summary-the-work & A ; gt ;

Kristeva, Julia. “Revolution in Poetic Language.”The Kristeva Reader.Ed. Toril Moi. Oxford: Blackwell. 1974

Nair, Rukmini Bhaya. “The Return of Ariel.”Mad Girl’s Love Song. HarperCollins Publishers India, 2013

The Ayodhya Cantos: Poems. New Delhi: Viking Publications, 1999. Print.

Rahman Anisur, Ameena Kazi Ansari. “Language Without a Safety Internet: The Enigma and Excitement of Poetry A conversation with Rukmini Bhaya Nair.”Indian English Women Poets.Creative Books, 2009

Shankar, Ravi. “Reformulating Forms: A Close Reading of Two Contemporary Poets.” Web. 25 Feb. 2015. www.cprw.com/reformulating-forms

Shivdasani, Meena. “Introduction.”Anthology of Contemporary Indian Poetry.Web. 25Feb.2015. & A ; lt ; bigbridge.org/BB17/poetry/indianpoetryanthology/Indian-poetry-anthology-into.html # & A ; gt ;

Vij, Bhawna, Manpreet Kang. “Poetic Configuration of Communalism: A Study of Selected Poems of Imtiaz Dharker, Seeme Qasim and Rukmini Bhaya Nair.”DialogueNo.22 ( Autumn 2012 ) : 73-89. Print.

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