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I write about little things so that every time/ I sit by the fire in some unknown village/ to share food, and the children ask me/ to read poems, I don’t want to tell them they/ will not be able to understand what I write.

 

 

Madhu Raghavendra’s poems speak of love — whether of a wife, a child, or the forests of Arunachal Pradesh — with the hushed awe of an explorer uncovering new landscapes of the heart. Combining lyricism with axiomatic suddenness, the poems about parenting in particular are imbued with a rare tenderness, as they invoke the redness of new life that ‘pollinates from love’ or of holding a child ‘like rivers wear thirst’ and ‘poems wear time’. An outside world of ‘sameness’, where shanties are sold as shelters, and cities are a web of sewers, is never quite forgotten. But the poems assert their prerogative to live differently — to embrace a world of ‘flowers, plants, books and children’; a world where one might hang, as only a poet could, ‘from the sky/ tied to the trunks of truth and lie’. Arundhathi Subramaniam, author of Love Without a Story

 

 

What makes Raghavendra Madhu's poems different from the mainstream Indian poetry in English is their deep empathy with the hapless and the marginalised. The poet understands the agony of the lives of the marginalised in India but refuses to condescend or pity them, taking their life for what it is — a life of grief, waiting, struggle, despair. There is no breast-beating or sloganeering here, but a true portrayal of their miserable lives. Not that this is the only concern expressed in these poems; the poet is fully conscious of the ironies of human existence in all these dimensions. K Satchidanandan, author of The Missing Rib

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