Sunday, December 11, 2022

Two new poems

I have two poems out in a special edition of the Portside Review, focused on what is 'Endangered'. Editor Sampurna Chattarji picked two very different poems though they are thematically linked in that they look at danger from different perspectives.

In ‘The sky fails to fall’, I was addressing the destruction implicit in a lack of consequence. What if the skies don’t fall when they should? There are events that should stop us in our tracks, freeze our blood. There are conditions under which we should become dysfunctional and refuse to conduct business as usual. If we don’t, those destructive conditions become stronger, and yet, that happens so rarely. The skies do not fall even as, metaphorically speaking, the sky is actually falling.

The other poem is a sort of list or litany and it derives from my current research on 'witches' in South Asia. While mine is a literary project, I have been reading some anthropology too. In Witch Hunts: Culture, Patriarchy and Structural Transformation (Cambridge University Press, 2020), Govind Kelkar and Dev Nathan argue that a witch-hunt enforces or reinforces patriarchy.‘I found a witch’ is a ‘found’ poem series that draws directly from Kelkar and Nathan’s work. It foregrounds women who were ‘hunted’, weaving together key phrases that jumped out at me into compact micro-narratives, citing only the barest facts. Part of the reason I adopted this style was the need to emphasize the violence and the motivations behind witchcraft accusations, and partly because the psychological terror, the isolation, and the heartbreaking betrayals were already present. I have tried to write so that the women might confront readers more directly.

You can read both poems here: portsidereview.com/4b0d-annie-zaidi

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