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Poets

Vatsala

Vatsala is a Tamil poet and fiction writer who started writing at the age of forty-eight. She retired as Systems Engineer from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras in 1999. 

She has a book of poems entitled Suyam (Sneha, 2000) and an award-winning novel Vattathul (Uyirmai, 2006).  Vattathul has been translated into English by the author and K.Srilata and is forthcoming from Writers Workshop under the title Once There was a Girl. The Tamil original won the Tiruppur Tamil Sangam award for the best novel in 2008.

Vatsala’s poems, short stories, and articles are known for their feminist perspective and have appeared in Subha Mangala, Kanaizhayi and Pudiya Parvai.  Her short stories have won the Illakia Chintanai award, the Agni-Subhamangala award and the Rajeswari Balasubramaniam award.  Her poems have been widely translated into English and were featured in The Rapids of a Great River: The Penguin Book of Tamil Poetry (Viking/Penguin, 2009) as well as in Interior Decoration: Poems by 54 Women From 10 Languages (Women Unlimited, 2010).


 Vatsala's Origami micro-chapbooks & selected poems are available below.  We are grateful to the author for permission to share her work with us.

Origami Micro-chapbook

Selected Poem(s)

The End of Hindsight

 
Cover art by K. Anany
 
All poems are from the collection
"Suyam" Chennai: Sneha, 2000. 
Wherever translations have appeared in print,
details are given.
 

Rope (Kayaru)

I detest ropes.
 
All of them—
the village well’s
and Chitappa’s coir
that ties his cases.
 
The chain around
my wife’s neck
is of a different kind.
Chitti’s too—
she is scared of me.
So is Appa,
who wonders about Amma’s last words.
 
All she said was:
‘A chitti will arrive.
Be a good boy
and grow up soon.
Sorry, kanna,
I have to go.’
I nodded,
kicking my ball.
She kicked the chair,
shaking my baby sister in the womb,
tightening the rope round her neck.
 
I detest ropes.
Vatsala © 2012

Translated by K. Srilata and Subashree Krishnaswamy

Banyan

 
Cover art by K. Anany
 
All poems are from the collection
"Suyam" Chennai: Sneha, 2000.
Wherever translations have appeared in print,
details are given.
Translations in this micro-chapbook
by K. Srilata and Subashree Krishnaswamy

Why Didn't I Become A Poet

(Naan yen kavignar aga villai?)
 
It’s only after you asked me
that I wondered:
why I never became a poet.
 
Digging deep,
I found no evidence
that I wasn’t one.
I’d like to ask you something:
do dead poems count?
Since they dissolved
while still unborn,
I couldn’t give them shape.
I wasn’t aware of their inception,
so I never recorded their time of birth.
 
But, with some, their time of death
is clear to me now.
 
One died when my grandmother praised
the neat way I folded the clothes.
A couple when
I picked up the ladle,
sorry for my mother,
who struggled with my brothers’ voracious greed
and my father’s fastidious tongue.
A few passed away when
I befriended a typewriter
to save up for a gold chain,
just so a yellow thread could be tied
round my neck.
 
Bored, are you?
I will keep it short then.
A hundred vanished as I
washed my babies’ bottoms,
tutored my darling children,
saved up for my son’s overseas education,
stood by my husband as he washed the feet
of the son-in-law from America.
If they all come to life and take shape,
a poet, I will be.
 
If not, next month,
after his death anniversary,
when my green card darlings go back home,
after my numb feelings are massaged and
I journey a bit into my eyes
and release my breath completely,
who knows,
I might become a brand new poet.
Vatsala © 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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