Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Feature: Nabina Das Day 3

Moonlore from the East

What if the man in the moon wasn't a man
At all but a woman? A friend asked me.

I said it was always a woman to me, the moon
For she charted our lives from inside and outside
In cycles
That’s how we looked at the moon from towns
By swollen rivers
And eastern monsoon winds.

My first pets were rabbits etched on the moon
Seen from my bedroom window
When storytelling was a rite and people sifted truth from lies.
I wasn’t yet called a moon-faced siren then
Until it became a new moon.

If you’re a hunter, fisherman,
Farmer, gardener,
You know what the moon does to you, your
Forests, noisy crickets and dreamy skies
She’s a jealous rival or a benevolent ladylove.

Earlier the fishermen of my coasts cast lines
Measuring phases of the moon

If they found her moody and sad
Like their wives or doting like a mother
They stopped wars in honor of the woman-moon
Even when she marched on through her waning
Left-handed gibbous.

They’ve forgotten that pride.

© Nabina Das (First published in The Toronto Quarterly)

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Where does your inspiration come from?

--I don't get 'inspired' to write anything. Mostly non-inspirational things or events are behind my work. Honestly. Take for example "The First Apple Sings a Ruba'i". I just thought the poor apple needed a tiny squeaky voice. We all know the others' POV in that famous Biblical story.

Who are your favorite writers/poets?

--Many. Both mainstream and subaltern in all continents, original or in translation. Right now, I'm trying to understand "Dalit" poetry from India.

Who are your writing influences and what was it about them that inspired you?

-- Family, as I mentioned earlier. Right now, my husband's -- a Francophone scholar -- own reading of poetry and prose provide me a lot of insight and interest in creating what I do. As a kid I was influenced by Rabindranath Tagore, mainly because I read in his biography that he did not attend school formally. Basically, I was looking for an excuse to do the same!

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  1. This poem just flows so naturally and is a pure pleasure to read. It's as untroubled and unhurried as a moon lifting by gentle stages. A delightful image:

    "My first pets were rabbits etched on the moon"

    Another nice image, this one teeming with information and connotation:

    "Earlier the fishermen of my coasts cast lines
    Measuring phases of the moon"

    And then the hammer comes down on us, as if our lunar nurturer had been arrow-stricken and then plunged to mortal doom:

    "They’ve forgotten that pride."

    Moon-Woman disenchanted, dethroned. In the event and continuing: havoc and a loosening of war dogs...hearts harder than moonstone.

  2. Starts beautifully with a curious question, moves smoothly through various moon lores, and then the final clinching statement - a sad loaded truth.

    This poem is a beauty. The image "My first pets were rabbits etched on the moon" is adorable.

  3. Beautiful - is all i can say!

  4. I love the poem and would like to read it at the Autumn Moon Festival Reading in October.

    I like that your poetry draws on a wide variety of sources and perspectives. That inspires me as a writer myself.. seeing it in someone else's work.

    Thank you Nabina...