IMPHAL, Sept 9 : An anthology of poetry titled “Tattooed with Taboos” written by Chaoba Phuritshabam, Shreema Ningombam and Soibam Haripriya was released by the chief guest, eminent academic and activist Dr Lokendra Arambam in a function held at the Conference Hall, Manipur Press Club today.
Besides, Dr. Arambam, Prof. Soyam Lokendra, Head of the Philosophy Department, Manipur University was the president and Sahitya Academy awardee and eminent poet/writer Mr. Sharatchand Thiyam, the guest of honour at the book release function. Touching upon the poetic elements of the anthology, eminent writer and Manipuri poet Mr. Sharatchand Thiyam expressed that the three women had courageously come out and contributed to the granary of rich literature of the state. He shared that though the profiles of the poets are starkly different they together intend to put forth certain thoughts on social realities that affect us today. Analysing the collection he shared that there is a need to engage with the work and discuss it further. He said “Now the anthology is not theirs, it is ours. It is for us to decipher and discuss what they are expressing”.
Appreciating the works of the three poets, Dr. Lokendra Arambam shared that there is a need to look at the poets – what kind of generation they are? What kind of generation do they represent? What is the society and social reality they are facing?”He also feared for the society they had inherited and wondered if the collection is but a dream of a new society. Looking at the angst that is reflected in the poetry he shared that it is now time to ask “Where is our modernity heading?”
Echoing similar views, Prof. Soyam Lokendrajit said the poetry took time to be read and the usage of metaphors seems too direct towards an altogether new school of thought. Though the poets have a different ways of expressing and a distinctly individualist style of writing yet there seem to be a thread that runs though the collection and that is in the question “Why do you write? What is the genesis of the poems?”He also shared that a women’s body cannot be looked at only clinically as streams of blood encapsulated within skin and bones but rather it is a cultural construct. He looked at the poetry as questions to these constructs which would eventually be resisted by established patriarchal beliefs and dogma.
Besides reading out individual poems by the three poets, they also expressed their views on how they have used poetry to express their experiential encounters with the society under social, economic and political turmoil. Chaoba Phuritshabam looked at the process of the poets coming together and writing together as a journey.
Soibam Haripriya looked at the anthology as poetry that resists and stands as witness to the times and also seeks belongingness, a certain root for trees to outstretch and branch forth.
Shreema Ningombam also expressed her views and spoke of the intense process of creation of the book akin to that of bearing a child, a process which would have been impossible without the support of her parents and the many women of her family who could not be there at the release, being tied up by burden of the familial. She recited her poem “Sublime” from the collection and dedicated it to Irom Sharmila and her struggle.
“..They are goddesses
Destined to stand alone
In a temple filled with pungent prayers
With their crumbling stone limbs
Who knows her hunger for earthy love?
Who knows her yearnings to be mundane?
Who knows that goddesses too fear?
Who knows that stone too bleed?
Who knows that mute does speak
Is it that you and I
Have no heart to feel
No ear to listen”
This anthology records a specific angst of the times developed within the consciousness of the poets. Circumscribed by the construct of womanhood; enveloped within the halo of love, betrayal and breathing the anthology is located in the setting of a conflict torn society. Using the personal as a tool to document the changing frames of the society and practices which seems to be “set in stone” through the metamorphosis of their moods, anxiety, hysteria and melancholy, the poems in the words of the poets are experiential as well as reflexive. The anthology is thematically divided into three sections – Tattooed with taboos, Angst for homeland and Love and Longingness.
Chaoba Phuritshabam is a post graduate in Chemistry from Miranda House, Delhi University and an intellectual property professional. She is also pursuing her L.L.B from the faculty of Law, Delhi University. Shreema Ningombam is currently an Assistant Professor in Nambol L. Sanoi College, Manipur. She completed her M.Phil in Department of Political Science, University of Delhi in 2009 and she worked as a Teaching Assistant in the same faculty. Soibam Haripriya is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Sociology from University of Delhi, Delhi School of Economics, Department of Sociology. She completed her MPhil from the same department in 2010.
Tattooed with Taboos, An Anthology of Poetry by Three Women from North East India is published by Siroi Publications and Loktakleima Publications published in September 2011. It is priced at Rs 200/- The poets can be reached at : [email protected]. They maintain at blog http://tattooedwithtaboos.blogspot.com/