September 2, 2016

Two poems by Sukrita Paul Kumar: "Not Just Nostalgia" and "Flights of Freedom"

Sukrita Paul Kumar was born and brought up in Kenya and currently holds the Aruna Asaf Ali Chair at the University of Delhi. Formerly, a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, she is an Honorary Fellow of the International Writing Programme, University of Iowa , and of the Hong Kong Baptist University and Cambridge Seminars. She is also on the honorary faculty at the Durrell Centre at Corfu (Greece). She has published several collections of poems and many critical books.
As Director of a UNESCO project, she edited a volume of Urdu short stories in English, "Mapping Memories." In 2006, she published, as its Chief Editor, "Cultural Diversity in India" (MacMillan India). While her latest co-edited volume is" Speaking For Herself: An Anthology of Asian Women’s Writings" (Penguin India), she has also recently published "Poems Come Home" (HarperCollins) and "Rowing Together" (Rajkamal). Her poems have been translated into many languages including French, Chinese, and Swahili.


Not Just Nostalgia

The plane descended slowly
On the distant and pink dawn of my life
And the deep blue of the sky
Lightened, I had always known
Gertrude Stein to be taller than Eiffel Tower
Her dark shadow igniting Hemingway’s pen
As the colours on Picasso’s palette rose to paint her portrait
I knew I had landed in Paris, finally
Keeping the appointment with my young self

Flights of Freedom 

Many came, knocked and went away
But my friend, Simone de Beauvoir, you didn’t
You haven’t left,
The Second Sex, Mandarines and all;
Pulling at the delicate membranes of my self
Disentangling ritual from emotion
on the cross roads of all my loves
you entered the doors of my inner scape
my guiding star, my lighthouse
My friend, you are my enemy
Throwing me far out into the sea
Amidst sharks and whales
You led me to sources of fire
Ismat, Annie Apa and Sylvia Plath too,
All men, my meditations
For the birth of a ball of light and flames
My icon of worship,
The Greek Androgyny swinging hand in hand
with Ardhnarishwar

Landing on this land,
I see it all,
The ashes of lava
Over Simone’s territory disperse
The fireballs of light blowing
between the East and West
Beyond gender, beyond male and female
~Sukrita Paul Kumar

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