This book is a collection of essays on some of the more recent women poets in Tamil. They were written by the author, herself a poet, in the literary journal Semmalar.

Among the poets discussed are: Malathi Maithri, Suganthi Subramanian, Thamizhachchi Thangapandian, Balabharathi, Bharathi Krishnan, Kanimozhi, Thamizhnadhi, Fahima Jahan, Geethanjali Priyadarshini and Sugirtharani. (The chapter titles and the table of contents fail to mention the names).

While the works of each of these poets get critical treatment with excerpts from their oeuvre, the preface offers an overall view. The afterword assesses the output of a few other poets. The verses of the women poets record the realities of the times as they are. Voices are raised against male dominance. Problems relating to the home and workplace are recorded. The very body, motherhood and the joys of parenting are celebrated. Just as the usefulness of modern gadgets such as the mobile phone is appreciated, there is concern over the poor people having to run after the water-tanker for their daily needs.

A fleeting view from a speeding train is as good a subject as the digital banners of political bigwigs looming at us from street corners.

A girl who has just attained puberty succinctly declares that her mother can pry into her privacy only in a certain obvious manner but cannot really enter her mind — this is the first call of freedom. The metre in these poems is contemporary; the language, simple; the effect, immediately palpable. The fact that the titles of the poems are not enclosed in quotation marks is a drawback as we read the text.

PENNEZHUTHTHU— Kalamum Arasiyalum: S. Vijayalakshmi; Bharathi Puthakalayam, 421, Anna Salai, Chennai-600018. Rs. 70.

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