Inner Verse

Women Unlimited's next book is a collection of poetry by 54 women. Most of the poetry is in translation: Interior Decoration brings together many of India’s best known women poets, as well as some of its less familiar ones in this landmark volume. Its rich and varied selection presents a feast of poetry in translations that are remarkable for their fidelity and poetic rendering.

An experience of womanhood may be the locus of this anthology, but modes of expression vary by circumstance. Some women locate freedom in the sky, while others talk of being a witch, or dance, or food. Some speak of the pain of husbands and the love of children, others of a lover’s touch, and the value of mothers, work, and writing. Their voices are tinged, or ringing, with joy or anger, frustration or satisfaction, regret or ironic resignation. As women and as poets, they offer advice, consolation, perspective — and startling insight.

A colossus like Kamala Das or Gauri Deshpande finds an echo in Mandakranta Sen, or Malika Amar Sheikh even, unexpectedly, in Mamang Dai. Amrita Bharati’s intensely solitary interior landscape is counterpointed by the searing imagery of Salma; Savithri Rajeevan’s oblique subversion with Jameela Nishat’s overt dissent.

Myth, fable, contemporary reality, fantasy and folklore are the sinew and substance of poems that range from the fact of discrimination to the exhilaration of discovering the power of the word.

Contributors to the volume include Meena Alexander, Anamika, Temsula Ao, Amrita Bharati, Sampurna Chattarji, Challapalli Swaroopa Rani, Mamang Dai, Kamala Das, Sanskritirani Desai, Gauri Deshpande, Nabaneeta Dev Sen, Saroop Dhruv, Ghantasala Nirmala, Gagan Gill, Bilqees Zefirul Hasan, Ilampirai, Manisha Joshi, Vasanth Kannabiran, Kshama Kaul, Amita Kokate, Kondepudi Nirmala, Lalitha Lenin, Pradnya Lokhande, Kavita Mahajan, Uma Maheswari, Malathy Maithri, Jyotsna Milan, Debarati Mitra, Panna Naik, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Prathibha Nandakumar, Jameela Nishat, Savithri Rajeevan, Ravulapalli Suneeta, Kutti Revathi, Rose Mary, Sa Usha, Mamta Sagar, Salma, Mandrakanta Sen Mithu Sen, Rajee Seth, Shahjahana, Malika Amar Sheikh, Menka Shivdasani, Suganthi Subramanian, Sukirtharani, Anitha Thampi, Vaidehi, Vatsala, Archana Varma, Vijayalakshmi, Vimala and Volga.

Some familiar names, and many that should be...Exhilaration and discovery, then, are what inform the spirit of this unusual offering.

In paperback, 334 pages, Rs 395. ISBN: 9788188965625