Inscriptions on the Female Body: Poems of Varsha Singh | Chandramohan S


P A R B A T I – T H E  T R A I T O R  A N D  O T H E R  P O E M S

Varsha’s poems are attempts to wiggle the woman’s body out of violence – physical, structural and epistemological. It talks about the predatory male gaze. Her poems pulsate with the heat of a feminine anger. Her body is a site of resistance.

Varsha’s poems reflect a sense of urgency. Each poem is a “contribution to reality” as James Baldwin had once coined or a response to a pin pricks straight through her heart. There is a constant effort to challenge oneself to the core and push the envelope of the language to open a Pandora’s Box of myriad possibilities.

Every poem of hers is a brick in a mansion built along the edifice of her notion of justice. A woman’s body, her attire, and a soul writhing in the debris of layers of customs and traditions that may have contributed to the loss of perspective – a modern day womanhood may have to endure.

From my meagre experience of reading poems that seek to engage constantly suffer from lack of investment in the language or the aesthetics of the art form and focus only on the content (which could be very subversive). Our poet Varsha doesn’t fall into this trap. Poetry remains her first love.

She abstains from sloganeering – which I find as the most pertinent virtue of hers. Her poems work as poems first and only then secondly as vectors of subversion.

So any poetry enthusiast should find her collection of poems endearing and worth the money spend on buying her book.

I had come across her poems over the social media, like a writer capable of touching a raw nerve of the establishment; the poet in her is being touted as an embodiment of evil.

There is a general conception that Indian English Poetry is kind of too elitist and politically pasteurized. Ms Varsha Singh is an exception to this dictum. She has a grounding; the vernacular accent that her poems may have which I found very heartening. Her poems are shorn of elitism (or rather perceived?) that permeates Indian English poetry.

There is an engagement with the English language which I find refreshing. The poet quoted below is an interesting example to celebrate the experiments she has attempted in the white man’s tongue.


I <s-t-r-e-t-c-h> the syllables
like ~~s~~t~~r~~i~~n~~g~~
but they deny
I t|e|a|r the rhymes
like p/a/p/e/r
but they deny
being t|o|r|n
In return
then ****ROPE**** me
within their realm.

Her poems are very much rooted in the culture of the vernacular which should rouse the interest of a disconcerting reader. Many great poets of our country like Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre and Kamala Das wrote deftly in both languages.

Varsha is a talented poet and I am confident she will evolve into a distinct voice with her succinct poems that demand unequivocal terms enrich the diversity of Indian English poetry as we call it today.

– Chandramohan Sathyanathan

All Rights Reserved – (c) Authorspress, New Delhi (Publisher)

S. Chandramohan is an English poet based in India. His poems reflect the socio-political struggles of the marginalized, the working class and the nomadic outcasts of the world who are victimized and then forgotten as nation’s clash and wage relentless wars. His work has been profiled in New Asia Writing, Mascara Literary Review and About Place Journal, Counter-Punch Poetry, Thump Print Magazine, The Sentinel, etc. His first book Warscape Verses was published by Authors Press in the year 2014.

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