Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Feature: Nabina Das Day 4

A Few Things of Consideration

“If we choose, we can live in a world of comforting illusion” -- Noam Chomsky

This a far off place where I am lodged
Between news-nights, a foggy web, shores
Of dawning illusion after the day’s rowing
Is done. Am a chalice half-full, half-seen

This face is me, although another continent
Brown and mysterious earth, I tell all friends
While they are nodding to the lullabies of global-
ization, reading and debating Stiglitz ad nauseum
Desiccated words that drink churned hopes

Therefore, this has to be a mind that swims
I have concurred, where waking lies under
A Delhi sun or a New York cloud ever so
Languid from gaping at gregarious billboards:
Pepsi, Nike and maximum mantras after a
Game of duck and hide daily on our wobbly
Sides as I can see: it is her neck, his body that
Winces quite like mine cries from battles and
For beans, in sincere scare and loathing, searches
A reason to love and call everything by imper-
manent names; for example: I am, or, we are.

© Nabina Das (First published in Danse Macabre)

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How do you think your poetry impacts the lives of others?

--I would like to think it impacts, in helping someone understand diversity, in becoming compassionate, in stopping wars, in raising a voice against injustice. In my university days, I wrote a lot of protest poetry and acted in 'street plays'. I thought these acts of mine had very specific messages and I believed they did impact the people around me. I would like someone to tell me about that...

Who are your writing influences and 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!

How do you deal with writer's block?

--I don't believe in that! I also define writing as thinking. Even if my writing at times constitutes only a word or a comma... I'm happy that some thought process leads me to put that down on my screen/paper. There may be a block, but not 'writer's', to me it appears to be an external one, say, travel stress, my sick pet, a frozen keyboard, an intruding neighbor, a misbehaving colleague, etc.!


  1. I like the juxtaposition of images in this poem Nabina.. It kept my interest as to where it would go.

    Also appreciate knowing more about you.


  2. I don't believe in Progress. All gains are off-set. The Great Fool, holding the invisible scales, obsessively shifts phenomena until equipoise. Until all the dark energy and all the dark matter add up to zero.

    But I do believe in Compassion. Empathy not only keeps consciousness alive (witness the active, probing eye of our poet) but it also is our only faint hope for real meaning. Our poet, against the weight of the world, brushes off insipidity and callousness. She sees the impact of rationalized greed sucking out the breath of the world. She is sober, measured. She knows the odds and the enemy, but she will not become absorbed into the hive.

    This poem is lacking felicitous word play and affective contrivance. It lays the deal out. But prose can't achieve this understated chanting or work the spell of powerful stanzas.