Following the publication of her first book of poems, Shout, it took Gayatri Majumdar nearly 18 years to put together her second, I Know You Are Here, which has poems she has been writing since 2011. While she continues to write about everyday encounters, there, however, is an added dimension of inner and literal journeys she takes to find moments of silence and satori only to discover often that they are right there in her backyard.
I Know You Are Here
May not fall
On you anymore;
We then will
What brought you
Joy and tearlessness.
Gayatri Majumdar’s multi-layered poetry is deeply reflective, and while she can be spiritual and surreal, she can also be scathing, as in her poem about the keepers of peace who ‘snarl and bite’. Her quiet voice can speak volumes in just a few lines, with sharply etched images that are like word-paintings on the page. These poems are deceptively simple, and linger in the mind long after you have closed the book.
Menka Shivdasani, author of Frazil
I first read Gayatri Majumdar’s poems over twenty-five years ago when I was struck by their ability to sound jauntily assured and utterly strange, all at once. That quality remains unchanged: a large tree trunk with ‘Boom Shiva’ etched across it sits cheek-by-jowl here with a whirl of sea creatures, stars, minibuses, peach and yellow-white prayers, and cats called Emily and Dylan. Underpinning it is an uneasy search, never devoid of humour, for what the poet ironically terms ‘love and some loose change in a boundary-less universe’. In an early poem (included in this volume), Majumdar says it is on nights ‘when love, hate, joy/ pain, and all foreign policies fail’, that one must admit a poem in. One is grateful for those failures, for it is thanks to them that we have Majumdar’s second book of verse, still capable of surprising us with throwaway lines of casual adeptness such as these: ‘Ornithologists describe egrets as lazy;/ I forget now what egrets say about humans.’
Arundhathi Subramaniam, author of When God Is a Traveller
It is indeed comforting to know that poets like the author of I Know You Are Here, take to the art of poetry with the seriousness it demands and not just dabble at the surface level of the dilettante. These poems are bound to create an interest in the “art and craft” of poetry as well. They stand to testify to the presence of the imaginary at the heart of what matters in these troubled times of ours, and they would lead the reader gently beyond the dark night of the soul.
Dr Murali Sivaramakrishnan, professor and former chair of the Department of English, Pondicherry University