About FOOTPRINTS IN THE BAJRA (Cedar Books, New Delhi); By Nabina Das

"Fittingly for a poet, Nabina’s novel also has a strong lyrical core. 'Footprints in the Bajra' takes the homely image of the millet field as its central metaphor. ... But the novel is less a thriller about guerrilla action than a subtly colored character study of a fascinating group of individuals who intersect at various points in their lives ..." -- DEBRA CASTILLO, author, editor and distinguished professor (Cornell University, April 17, 2010).

Footprints in the Bajra is a serious book that moves at a smart uncontrived pace. It voices deep concerns about how and why the deprived and the marginalized in certain parts of our country join the Maoist ranks; how they adopt desperate and often terrible measures to wrench justice and to make their voices heard... a confident debut novel, a good read, which will leave you with plenty to mull over. -- PRITI AISOLA, author (See Paris for Me, Penguin-India, 2009) in DANSE MACABRE XXXIV.

In her debut novel, Nabina Das writes about an India where social divides stand taller than multistoried shopping malls. Footprints in the Bajra, inspired by what she saw while touring the interiors of Bihar as part of a travelling theatre group, inquires into why the Maoists have an influence over a large section of Indian society. Das talked to Uttara Choudhury in New York about her book, and its protagonist Muskaan -- DAILY NEWS AND ANALYSIS, Mumbai, March 28, 2010.


"The interspersion of references from both the West and India do not clash. Shakespeare and Lazarus as reference points are brought in with ease, as also Valmiki and Goddess Chhinnamasta, and nothing jars ... The language is poetic and creates visual images of beauty and ugliness side by side." -- ABHA IYENGAR, poet (Yearnings: Serene Woods, 2010) and fiction writer in MUSE INDIA, May-Jun 2010

Shwetank Dubey says Nabina Das ably recreates the milieu of Maoist-infested regions of India -- Nabina Das has chosen the first person account of narrating a story from the main characters of the novel, Nora the sheherwali (urban dweller), Muskaan the rebel, Suryakant Sahay the crafty clandestine planner and Avadhut the frontrunner of all the operations... the book deals with something that no urban resident is bound to know on his own — the life and times of people living in Maoist infested areas and why do they give in to the temptation provided by the Red Brigade. -- PIONEER newspaper, April 25, 2010.
'"If you misrepresent them, they'll abduct and kill you," says Muskaan, our hostess'... goes the first line with which Nabina Das settles everything about her novel -- style, subject and pace... Excellent plotline. Wonderful detail. A beautifully crafted book. -- Karunamay Sinha; THE STATESMAN, Sunday supplement "8th Day", May 16, 2010.

"This is bitter-sweet, if a rather longish tale of a modern-day Maoist revolution and the seeds of destruction and betrayal that lie embedded in it." -- Business World, May 17, 2010

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Presidential Poet

Yale professor Elizabeth Alexander became the fourth poet ever to be commissioned to write and recite a poem for the American Presidential inauguration on January 20, 2009, when Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in. New York Times has this:

The following is a transcript of the inaugural poem recited by Elizabeth Alexander, as provided by CQ transcriptions.

"Praise song for the day"

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.
Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.
A woman and her son wait for the bus.
A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."
We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.
We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."
We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.
Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.
Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.
Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.
What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.
In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.
On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Read her bio and a few poems at http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/245


Silver Solo said...

Thanks for posting this transcript. I thought it was a meaningful poem for the occasion. Perhaps a little slow in delivery for full effect, but I was moved by it.

Anonymous said...

hi,my name is abhimanyu,you don't know me. i was looking for someone called Roselyn from JNU and chance brought me here;i went to JNU too. i am doing a story on MS. Alexander's poem for the Hindu and would be glad if you would like to express your views on it. my blog address is fiercepothead.blogspot.in.
please let me know,thanks.

anu said...

Parts of the poem i like, just not sure if i liked it for the occasion, definitely thought its reading was slow. Probably the contrast in voices on that day has something to do with the way i feel. Shashi and Isaak think it was wonderful. Little guy, saw the whole thing in school, earnestly asked, but why did they play circus music? each have our impressions, I guess :)

Rhett said...

I liked the poem. Thanks for sharing. I love free verse.
[The lady in picture has a very interesting face, BTW. For one, the grin + jaw belong to a cartoon character, probably The Mask.]

fleuve-souterrain said...

what an interesting comment... the face... btw, free verse is more the practice to see a poet's range of context and imagination than rhymed ones. Read some contemporary poets and you'll see what i mean: Seamus Heaney, Robert Hass, Kay Ryan, Carol Ann Duffy, Meena Alexander...

ha ha I love Chittu's observation... circus music! yeah the readng was slow but the poem is good in parts... Haven't read this poet much really.

Silver Solo, thanks!

Fierce, try my best.

MysLykeMeeh said...

I liked the verses---captivated the heart, thanks for sharing--I was watching the inaguaral ceremony but couldn't catch her lines coz of much distractions--now, i read it through ur blog, thanks again!

Linda said...

I know I'm a little late... but I got here by way of a follower of my blog... saw your comments on their blog and was curious.... so here I am...I really like your blog... I'm glad I found it...

I, too, liked the poem... I watched it.... I thought it was longer though.... thanks for posting it.

Linda from http://cookingtipoftheday.blogspot.com/